'A Cavern beneath the Coastal Ice-Cliffs' [Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914]. A vintage blue-toned carbon print, 433 x 583 mm, mounted on flush-cut card; in fine condition
The original printed label from the Fine Art Society, New Bond Street, London, is on the verso of the mount: 'This photograph is enlarged from a negative taken during Dr Mawson's Australasian Antarctic Expedition ...'. The title and catalogue number (101, ruled out and replaced by 95) are manuscript insertions in ink. A recent article by Robyn Mundy, 'Writing with Light - a Photographer's Vision - Frank Hurley and the 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition' (Polar Journal, June 2014) highlights the significance of this superb image, not least because close study of contemporary documents has resulted in a reassessment of its production. 'The most contentious amongst Hurley's AAE embellishments is a small collection of images under the banner of "combination printing" - composites of two or more images blended into a new image. These reflect an artistic choice that at its time was admired as a special effect, but now stands out from "undoctored" photography as manipulation of truth.... [This photograph] was once interpreted as an example of combination printing, based on the assumption that it was too dangerous and difficult for Hurley and his companion, expedition doctor Leslie Whetter, to enter an ice cavern carved out of a sea wall. The image has now been reassessed as an "undoctored" photograph through corroborating written evidence.' Both Douglas Mawson and John Hunter refer to this particular photographic excursion in their diary entries on 31 August 1912. Provenance: from the personal collection of Sir Douglas Mawson, and by descent.