Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History

Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 187. British Antarctic "Terra Nova" Expedition, 1910-13—Herbert G. Ponting | Captain Scott's Last Birthday Dinner, 1911.

British Antarctic "Terra Nova" Expedition, 1910-13—Herbert G. Ponting | Captain Scott's Last Birthday Dinner, 1911

Lot Closed

November 15, 04:25 PM GMT


6,000 - 8,000 GBP

Lot Details


British Terra Nova Expedition, 1910-13—Herbert G. Ponting

Captain Scott's Last Birthday Dinner, 1911 (Officers' Table)

toned silver bromide print (482 x 615mm.), mounted and glazed in the original Fine Art Society frame, inscribed 'Jeffreys L' on the reverse, titled and numbered 'Capt. Scotts Birthday Dinner / 1911./ 51' on The Fine Art Society label on the reverse, a typed label on the backing board transcribing the exhibition catalogue entry, and with trade label ('Richard Jeffreys / 88 Bold Street, Liverpool / Estd. 1838 / Picture Dealer ... Print-Seller / Carver, Gilder and Picture / Frame Manufacturer ...') on the backing board

printed label to the reverse of the frame

An intimate photograph of the officers attending the last birthday dinner of Captain Scott, on 6 June 1911, before the expedition's notorious demise. The contemporary note on the back of the frame lists the guests at his table: Dr Atkinson, Mr Meares, Captain Oates, Mr. Cherry-Garrard, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Nelson, Commander Evans, Captain Scott, Dr. Wilson, Dr. Simpson, Lieut. Bowers, Lieut. Gran, Mr. Wright, Mr. Debenham, and Mr. Day, along with Herbert Ponting, the expedition's photographer and videographer, who took the photograph. The note recalls that the birthday was a great celebration, that the "Hut was decorated for this night with sledging flags", and the "resources of the larder were drawn upon to the utmost". This is corroborated by Captain Scott's diary entry on the day of his birthday in 1911, which read: "Tuesday, June 6. - ... It is my birthday, a fact I might easily have forgotten, but my kind people did not. At lunch an immense birthday cake made its appearance and we were photographed assembled about it ... After my walk I discovered that great preparations were in progress for a special dinner, and when the hour for that meal arrived we sat down to a sumptuous spread with our sledge banners hung about us. Clissold's especially excellent seal soup, roast mutton and redcurrant jelly, fruit salad, asparagus and chocolate -- such was our menu" (Scott's Last Expedition, pp. 304-5).


L. Huxley (ed.), Scott's Last Expedition, London: 1913, pp. 304-5.

R.F. Scott, Scott’s Last Expedition, I, London, 1914, illustrated opp. p.304 (‘Captain Scott’s Last Birthday Dinner’).

H.G. Ponting, The Great White South, London, 1921, illustrated opp. p.141 (without Atkinson in the left foreground and Day in the right foreground) where incorrectly captioned ‘Midwinter Day Dinner 1911’. Ponting mistakenly illustrated his text describing the Midwinter Day dinner held on 22 June 1911 with the photograph of ‘Capt. Scott’s birthday dinner’ (6 June 1911).


(this subject) London, The Fine Art Society, 1913-14 (and travelling to Cambridge, Glasgow, Liverpool (The Rushworth Hall), Portsmouth and Paris), The British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913. Exhibition of the Photographic Pictures of Mr. Herbert G. Ponting F.R.G.S, no. 51 (‘Captain Scott’s Last Birthday Dinner, 1911. (Officers’ Table.) (C)’).


Richard Jeffreys, Liverpool (inscription on the reverse)

The Fine Art Society label on the reverse indicates (‘Jeffreys L’) this print was ordered by Jeffreys, a Liverpool picture dealer and print seller, the L presumably for Liverpool, and one can assume the order came from the Liverpool exhibition of Ponting’s photographs of the expedition, one of the provincial exhibitions of the photographs held by The Fine Art Society in 1914 which followed their London exhibition.

Ponting’s exhibited prints were available to be ordered in various sizes (A-D). Prints could only be ordered at the exhibited size or larger. The present subject was exhibited as a C which measured 23 inches wide and was priced at £1/11/6. It was also available at the larger size (D – 29 inches wide) for £2/2/0. The present photograph retains its original Fine Art Society frame (the exhibition catalogue noted frames were priced from one guinea downwards).