Down amongst the Ice Islands by Robin Brooks
© Robin Brooks 2008

Down amongst the Ice Islands
January 1773

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Down amongst the Ice Islands by Robin Brooks
Down amongst the Ice Islands (Detail) by Robin Brooks
Down amongst the Ice Islands (Framed) by Robin Brooks
Click to see larger

'Down amongst the ice islands'
Oil on Canvas
10 x 18 inches (22.5 x 46 cm)
Framed Size 17 x 25 inches (43 x 64 cm)
Price £12,000
Purchase information

Down amongst the Ice Islands

January 1773

Here the artist returns to a favourite subject from the first ice edge cruise, Resolution and Adventure 1772 1775.

It was early 1773 and the ships were cruising in high southern latitudes and were beginning to run short of water. Cook resolved to try and replenish stocks by collecting ice fallen from the bergs into the sea. Between the 9th and 16th January 1773, this arduous operation was successfully completed several times. The ships collected many tons of loose ice, which was taken up by the ships' boats and from there to the ships' decks to drain before melting in coppers.

John Marra gunners mate on the Resolution wrote -

"We found it to yield excellent water, everybody was employed, it afforded a very humorous sight, thus to see our people busy, some hacking away at large pieces, others drawing it out of yee sea in baskets and I believe it is yee first instance of drawing fresh water out of the ocean in hand baskets."

The scene depicted shows the Resolution in the middle foreground. The low northern sun catches the bulk of her weathered varnished hull emphasising the stout build and strength of the ship set against the enormity of the iceberg beyond. One of her boats has come around under her stern. The men had all been issued with extra clothing and wore red caps fashioned from canvas and red baize. To the left the Adventure comes into view. In the foreground, a group of Chinstrap penguins hesitate for a moment before moving off a larger piece of ice on which they had been resting. Early explorers were often bemused by the antics of the penguins (Pygoscelis Antarctica) Forster

Resolution and Adventure were to cross the Antarctic Circle at approximately 11.15 am on 17th January 1773. This was the first recorded crossing in history. Johann Reinhold Forster wrote

" a place where no navigator had ever penetrated before the British nation and where few or none will ever penetrate for it is reserved to the free spirited sons of Britannia, to navigate the Ocean wherever it spreads its briny waves."
* George (Johann's son) wisely omitted this patriotic outburst in his writings!

Read more about Captain Cooks 2nd Voyage (Click to summary of Second voyage)
Biography of Robin Brooks

The Journals of Captain James Cook Edited by J.C. Beaglehole
The Resolution Voyage John Marra 1745 1783
The Resolution Journal of Johann Reinhold Forster 1772-1777.

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