The Hon. John Collier
The Last Voyage of Henry Hudson exhibited 1881

Artwork details

The Last Voyage of Henry Hudson
Date Exhibited 1881
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 2140 x 1835 mm
Acquisition Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1881
Not on display

Display caption

In 1611, while on an expedition to find the North-West Passage, explorer Henry Hudson and his son were cast adrift by his mutinous crew. Their fate was unknown but raised the taboo of cannibalism. Collier hints at this by posing Hudson, eerily staring out at the viewer like Dante’s ‘Ugolino’ by Joshua Reynolds, 1773. Incarcerated with his sons, Ugolino eats them to survive, although the act is futile and all eventually die. Here the vast, Arctic landscape remains impassive to a terrifying human drama. Collier’s audience noted its relevance to ongoing Arctic explorations and the search for the North-West Passage.

July 2010

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