Noticias y Comentarios de interés para los Amigos de la Antártida

lunes, marzo 28, 2005

Descubren antigua pintura antartica de 230 años...

Mystery Surrounds Newly Discovered Antarctica Oil Painting
Painting On Display At Yale Until April 24

POSTED: 2:01 pm EST March 24, 2005
UPDATED: 2:17 pm EST March 24, 2005

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- As art restorers in London inspected a 230-year-old painting by master landscape artist Thomas Hodges, they noticed the canvas was thicker in some areas than others.
Using an X-ray machine, they peered behind the lush greens of New Zealand and discovered the oldest known painting of Antarctica.

The X-ray revealed two icebergs, painted during Captain James Cook's historic expedition below the Antarctic circle.

Until the National Maritime Museum in London made the discovery last year, historians believed that only sketches of the frozen continent had been produced.

"In the history of art, there's nothing comparable," said Angus Trumble, curator at the Yale Center for British Art, where the Hodges painting and the accompanying X-ray are on temporary display for their only United States appearance.

The discovery ignited a discussion over why Hodges endured frigid temperatures, fog and wind to capture the first image of the frozen continent, only to paint over it months later.

Cook had set out in 1772 to discover "Terra Australis Incognita," the mythical southern continent. Hodges was aboard the HMS Resolution to document the voyage, on which Cook spent nearly four months circumnavigating Antarctica.

"It put the final nail in the coffin that there wasn't a big land mass there suitable for commercial exploitation," said Brian Sandford, head of the U.S. chapter of the Captain Cook Society.

Painting the polar landscape would have made sense, experts agree, as it had never been seen before. And forensic analysis showed that Hodges took the time to complete the work.

Yet when the Resolution left Antarctica and made its first stop in New Zealand, Hodges immediately turned on his iceberg canvas and painted his "View in Pickersgill Harbour, Dusky Bay Sound, New Zealand."

One theory is that the brutal weather destroyed some of Hodge's supplies, forcing him to reuse a canvas. Others suggest the bleak polar landscape didn't fit the popular style.

"Perhaps he said, 'Who paints icebergs?'" said Isabel Stuebe, a Hodges biographer and scholar. "It wouldn't have met the standards for classic landscape composition. There was nothing in the foreground. It was more of a record of something as a scene rather than an artistic composition."

Or maybe four months in Antarctic waters were enough to make Hodges want to erase the artistic record of such a a perilous voyage.

"In a way, it's very understandable for Hodges to immediately be determined to paint this lush safe haven of New Zealand," said Trumble.

The painting, which is part of the traveling exhibit "William Hodges, 1744-1797: The Art of Exploration," is on display at Yale until April 24. It then moves to the Auckland Art Gallery in New Zealand.


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