The north-west passage is a dangerous sea route round North America via the Canadian Arctic. For centuries, European explorers attempted to use it as a trade route to Asia. It became associated with failure, adversity and death, with ships and their crews battling against hopeless odds in a frozen wilderness. Millais painted this when an English expedition was setting off. Millais suggests the risks of the voyage through the grim expression of the old seaman. His daughter is pictured beside him, reading from a log book.
Gallery label, August 2018
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