Archive of Original Photographs for "Captain Scott's Own Story"


BOWERS, Henry / PONTING, Herbert George / SCOTT, Robert Falcon


PONTING, Herbert George Archive of Original Photographs for "Captain Scott's Own Story" THE GEORGE NEWNES ARCHIVE

[Newnes], 1913.

Sixty-eight photographs, including the original marked-up photographs for serialisation in the Strand Magazine, the first publication of Scott's account of the expedition and race for the pole. All silver gelatin prints, comprising; 47 photographs mounted on white card, captioned and marked up in pencil, in four sizes (240 x 180mm, 170 x 120mm, 120 x 90mm, 70 x 80mm); 9 photographs bordered in black, most of which are marked up for resizings in pencil (80 x 110mm); 7 photographs on glossy paper, being either resized enlargements of other photographs in the album, or marked up for publication (between 105 x 105mm and 165 x 220 mm); and five large folding photographs, captioned and annotated to rear, one of which is heavily retouched for publication (390 x 255mm). With a proof image of a map showing the route to the pole, reproduced in the final instalment, to the front pastedown (100 x 280mm). Finely bound in full navy crushed morocco by Brockman, titled gilt to the upper cover and spine, gilt rule to the upper cover, five raised bands, gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers. An exceptional survival, with the quality and clarity of the photographs being very fine overall. Occasional yellowing and oxidisation, though almost entirely constrained to the mounts and extremities of the images. A little more oxidisation shows on the larger images, four of which are retouched for publication.

A remarkable and important album containing some of the earliest examples of Ponting's Antarctic photographs, marked up for their very first publication. They were published alongside the first publication of excerpts from Scott's diary in the Strand Magazine in consecutive issues from July to October 1913, preceding the reproduction of the photographs in Scott's Last Expedition (on 6th November 1913), and their exhibition at the Fine Art Society from December 1913.
Herbert Ponting was the expedition's photographer, and had fitted out a dark-room in the hut at Cape Evans where he would work, sleep and live. He took two film-cameras with him and several still cameras, chiefly taking 7 x 5 inch glass plate negatives and developing them in his dark room. In advance of the departure of the Pole party, Ponting instructed Scott, Wilson and Bowers in how to capture photographs in order to preserve a pictorial record of their pole attempt.
Of the sixty-two photographs reproduced in the serialisation, fifty-eight original photographs are present here, marked up for publication. The annotations, some of which are in Ponting's hand, include captions for the photographs, marks and arrows resizing or cropping the photographs consistent with their eventual publication, and instructions pertaining to the colouring of the sky in the large photographs reproduced in the final instalment. The album also includes a collage of two photographs, and significant retouching to a number of photographs, reproduced exactly in the serialisation.
Whilst the majority of the photographs in the album were taken by Ponting, a number were taken by Scott, Wilson and Bowers on their route to the pole, at the pole, and on their ill-fated return journey. The negatives for these photos were found in their tent in November 1912, with the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers, and were developed at Cape Evans by Frank Debenham, Ponting having already left the Antarctic. Two photographs that appear in the album are attributed to Scott both in the Strand and in Scott's Last Expedition; "Protecting The Ponies In Camp" and "The Camp On The Beardmore Glacier".
One of the photographs of the party at the South Pole is hitherto unpublished and apparently unrecorded. It is seemingly taken just before Bower's published and now-famous image of the five men at the pole, each bearing pained and defeated expressions. In that image, Oates and Evans stand either side of Scott, while Wilson and Bowers are seated, and the latter, gloveless, pulls a string to take the picture. In this version, conversely, Wilson and Bowers are standing either side of Scott, the former contrapposto with his hands on his hips. Scott, in the centre of the image, holds the Union Jack in his left hand and is looking away from the camera and Oates, sitting in the front, seems to manage a smile. In this instance it is Evans, seated next to Oates, who pulls the string to take the photograph. While Bower's version (also present here) was printed in the Strand, and in Scott's Last Expedition, and was exhibited at the Fine Art Society and has been reproduced countless times since, Evans's image, surviving in this album, seems unpublished and is apparently unrecorded among the SPRI's holdings of over 3,200 images from the expedition.
Contemporary albums of Ponting's photographs from the expedition are exceptionally uncommon. This collection is not only significantly more extensive than other examples, but also has a direct bearing on the publishing history of the expedition and preserves a seemingly unrecorded image taken at the South Pole.

Stock ID: 39529


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