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Frozen in Time

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Those three guys have become known as the best preserved ice mummies of the 19th century. Petty Officer John Torrington, Private William Braine and Able Seaman John Hartnell were the first casualties of the doomed Franklin Expedition. They all died in a rather short time span of pneumonia, tuberculosis and lead poisoning and were buried next to each other on Beechey Island in the Canadian Arctic. Their gravestones are still there today.

But they did not become famous until they were exhumed by Professor Owen Beattie and his team in 1984.
I've read the account in Beattie's book "Frozen in time" and just had to paint them. How could they have looked when they were alive? All I have as a guide are photographs of the preserved bodies, and until someone exhumes them again there will be only that very limited number of old photos.

So you can't really call my work an "archeological reconstruction", but an "artistic interpretation".

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rockindrawings's avatar
With all due respects, These guys aren't looking to good anymore.
RD-DD1843's avatar
Closest to them that I know of is the American Polar Explorer, Charles Francis Hall, who died suddenly after what seemed a brief illness on his "Polaris" Expedition to the North Pole via Greenland in 1871.  Hall (who first became interested in Polar Exploration in the 1860s, and went to Canada to find traces of Franklin's Expedition - and possibly survivors) was buried near his camp in Greenland.  In 1967 Chauncey Loomis went to find Hall's final resting place, and opened the coffin.  Not as well preserved as the three sailors from Franklin's Expedition, Hall's corpse was still recognizable.  It was photographed, and hair samples taken.  They showed heavy traces of arsenic.  There had been a rumor in 1871 that Hall died of arsenical poisoning, and while his habit of doctoring himself with patent medicines was possibly an explanation, it is very likely he was murdered.  There are several possible suspects, but the most likely was the German-born scientist on the expedition, Dr. Emil Bessels, who represented the Smithsonian Institute, and was jealous of Hall being the leader of this expedition, and resentful that he, a college graduate with several degrees, had to take orders from a comparative ignoramus like Hall.  Loomis published his findings, and a full study of Hall's career, in his book "Weird and Tragic Shores" in 1968.      
Skoshi8's avatar
Arsenic was used as an embalming agent in the 19th century. Used on John Wilkes Booth's supposed "mummy."
Kellkrull87's avatar
John Torrington was a 'Leading Stoker'. 
AkhillesY's avatar
kushinadahime4's avatar
I remember reading about this in when I was eleven. Sadly I never finished the book.
rinoni's avatar
Because I don't know how to explain it in english: tolle Bilder!
Insgesamt find ich das ganze Arbeit um die Expedition spannend. Es berührt mich merkwürdig die (wirklich nicht sehr schönen, ehem) Mumien zu sehen und dann diese liebevolle Darstellung, die ihnen ein Gesicht verleiht und sie als das zeigt, was sie ja mal waren: junge Männer mit einer Geschichte, Familien und Wünschen. Klingt das kitschig... weißt du, was ich mein? Ist irgendwie schwer zu beschreiben.
Jedenfalls total toll gemacht :-)
TheEclecticOne's avatar
Amazing... I've seen pictures of their bodies but it's even more amazing to see what they might have looked like when they were alive...
TheEclecticOne's avatar
Isadorrah's avatar

Wonderful portrayal :clap:

I always wondered why Torrington's nose and forehead were blackened.  Now I know, thank you.

ColetteCopeland's avatar
Excellent likeness! I've been considering writing a novel with this group...haven't started it yet, though :)
IceStorm94's avatar
I love the idea behind this.
Watched the photo and I really think you did a good job, also with checking the minor details like the eye color or their beards.
Westernlady27's avatar
You're quite welcome! Me too, but I watched it on Nova's "Buried in Ice," and believe me, it made me want to cry! This is the way(you're pictures ,) the way they should be remembered.
Westernlady27's avatar
All were very handsome men! You did a wonderful job! I've read the book"Frozen in Time," you have the facial reconstruction perfect or very near it! Personally I hope more people get to see your work. Did Beattie ever see these pictures or their decendents? I think they would be quite pleased! Do you have the pricelist on these?
KristinaGehrmann's avatar
Thank you! :D Yes, I should actually show them to Professor Beattie.

Price list? You mean for prints? I can't make good quality prints of these, since I lost the original 300 dpi file.
TribalGraces's avatar
I'm not sure I want to look at the mummies, but these pictures are wonderful. It's very moving that you would take the time to give them back their faces after they've been gone for over a century. Beautiful work.
Un-Chat-Noir's avatar
I´m too scared to look at the photos of the mummies but I love this and the idea behind it. Great work!
RD-DD1843's avatar
I have seen photos of the mummies. Belated autopsies suggested they died of a combination of scurvy and possible lead poisoning from the improper canned food that was purchased for the expeditions. They were lucky to die early - later members were forced into cannibalism trying to keep alive.

Their corpses are not the only ones to be fairly well preserved up in the Arctic circle. In 1969 the corpse of American Explorere Charles Francis Hall was exhumed in Greenland, and found to have arsenic in him. Either from patent medicines he used, or by suicide, or by murder - possibly by the German doctor on Hall's Polaris Expedition. Read (if you haven't) Chauncey Loomis's WEIRD AND TRAGIC SHORES.
Novester-Finch's avatar
Fascinating! Thanks for sharing this. I'll have to add this book to my wish list and check it out!
Sakraida82's avatar
OH yeah. That's right. Their frozen bodies are rather creepy in how well preserved they are. It's a good artistic interpertation.
Seyreene's avatar
Mumien sind immer ein interessantes Thema... Ich finde es spannend, dass du versucht hast, die Männer quasi wieder zum Leben zu erwecken durch deine Interpretationen.
aurianfae's avatar
I love me some ice mummies! But then, as an archaeologist I'm totally fascinated with mummies of any sort.
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