The painting is on canvas and in its original gilt wood frame (image size 298 × 186 mm; external dimensions of the frame 405 × 293 mm); it is signed in the bottom right-hand corner 'C Harrisson 1913'. The original canvas has been relined, and minimal expert conservation has stabilized the surface, resulting in a most appealing item in excellent condition.
Charles Turnbull Harrisson (1866-1914) was selected by the AAE as the biologist and artist on the Western Base Party, Shackleton Ice Shelf, Queen Mary Land, under Frank Wild. He accompanied Wild on his main eastern sledge journey, and participated in several other expeditions. He was the only Tasmanian member of the AAE; he returned to Hobart in March 1913 and continued his work as a biologist. 'Invited to Mawson's wedding in March 1914, Harrisson declined but sent one of only three oil paintings he did on his return as a wedding present' (David Jensen: 'Mawson's Remarkable Men', 2015). Although that figure is incorrect (for instance, three of the four colour plates by Harrisson in the first edition of 'The Home of the Blizzard' appear to be oil paintings, and this is not one of them), his artwork is very rare on the open market, and there is little doubt that he produced very few paintings in this medium before his untimely and tragically early death. 'In late 1914, he joined the "Endeavour" voyage to resupply the meteorological station at Macquarie Island, first established by Mawson's expedition. Once resupply was completed on 3 December 1914, the "Endeavour" departed Macquarie Island and was expected to arrive in Hobart a week later'. She failed to return; no wreckage was ever found, but the Marine Court of Inquiry concluded that bad weather had caused the ship and all hands to be lost at sea. This fine painting, depicting a scene that must have been enacted countless times by all of the expeditioners, not least Mawson himself, is a singularly apposite gift to a man on his wedding day. Provenance: Sir Douglas and Lady Paquita Mawson; by descent.