LONDON.- The ATLAS Gallery
, Marylebone, will unveil a major collection of rare vintage photographs the original prints taken from the negatives in 1913 - by Herbert G. Ponting, the official expedition photographer of the infamous British Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole, lead by Captain Robert Falcon Scott between 19101912. In total over 50 images by Herbert Ponting and Captain Scott will be on display.
The unique selling exhibition - The Great White South - will offer collectors the opportunity to purchase these valuable antique Carbon Print Photographs, which range in price from £12,000 - £27,000.
The original 1913 carbon prints on display, which are in exceptional condition, have not been exhibited publicly for nearly 100 years, and many remain in their original Edwardian frames. The ATLAS Gallery show is the largest exhibition of Pontings original Polar photographic prints assembled since first being displayed at the Fine Art Exhibitions between 1913 and 1915.
Herbert G. Ponting (1870-1935) was already one of the most renowned and accomplished photographers of his day when he was recruited as a camera-artist to document Scotts attempt to reach the pole. A highly experienced travel photographer, his photographs of Japan, Burma and China - taken before his journey to Antarctica - are still highly sought after by collectors today. Among his most collectable and rarest works are his photographs of the Antarctic, taken during the Terra Nova Expedition.
The ATLAS Gallerys selling exhibition is from the collection of antique photography collector Richard Kossow, who started collecting Pontings polar photographs over 25 years ago. Kossow, a Literary Dealer, had his interest in Pontings photography sparked through his research into the diaries and memoirs of the Edwardian Polar explorers. After finding many of Pontings original prints in appalling states of decay, he devoted his collecting towards finding Pontings best-preserved original photographs, wherever possible in their original frames. These museum-quality works are exclusively represented by the ATLAS Gallery.
Pontings extraordinary visual record of the Polar regions are considered to be of huge scientific and visual significance. His extraordinary technical and compositional talents captured images of the previously uncharted continent of unparalleled quality, which are still among some of the finest ever taken of the Antarctic. Ponting was the very first professional still and movie photographer to go to a polar region, and was the first movie cameraman to use his camera for naturalist studies. The photographs are also of considerable artistic note, displaying both the typically painterly compositions indicative to Edwardian photography, but also highly innovative, almost modernist perspectives on the polar landscape, demonstrating Ponting as a creative and pioneering photographer.
Additional works exhibited at the Great White South Exhibition:
Limited Edition Platinum Print Portfolio
In addition to the collection of the original carbon prints produced in 1913, there will also be a new limited edition collection of 48 platinum prints, published in a special portfolio in association with the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, available for purchase. Handmade from Pontings original negatives, the prints will be exhibited with specially commissioned essays by experts including author and explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, which provide a fascinating insight into the incredible story behind these remarkable photographs. The platinum print portfolios are priced at £25,000 for the complete portfolio with individual prints from around £800.
The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott
The exhibition will also feature the Lost Photographs of Captain Scott, taken by Scott himself during his tragic march to the Pole and first exhibited at the ATLAS Gallery in November 2011. Throughout his polar trek, and in the face extreme arctic weather conditions, Scott trained by Ponting captured some breathtaking polar panoramas as well as photographing the explorers themselves, documenting some of the most poignant and emotive records of the fateful expedition.
The collection of images, of which the works on display are modern limited edition reproductions of the original prints, chronicling the first part of Scott's Antarctic journey, were thought lost for almost 70 years because the negatives had been misplaced and the prints were in private hands. When the collection resurfaced at a New York auction in 2001, they were bought by Richard Kossow who had planned to sell them on until they were bought by the Scott Polar Research Institute with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the British Nation.
Ben Burdett, Founder and Managing Director of the ATLAS Gallery said: Pontings photography of the Antarctic had a tremendous impact when it was first displayed at the Fine Art Exhibitions in 1913 that is often difficult for a contemporary audience to fully understand. There was a huge outpouring of national grief for the loss of Captain Scott and his party, and Pontings images of the expedition became a focal point for the general public to see for themselves where Scotts remarkable story played out.
The original show was also a pivotal moment in the history of photographic curation. The Fine Art Exhibitions were the biggest selling exhibition of photography ever staged at that time, and the scale of the photographic prints surpassed any previously displayed in public.
The quality of preservation we see in the collection we have today adds to the value of these unique artefacts, and we are extremely excited to be hosting this selling exhibition at the ATLAS Gallery.
Richard Kossow, assembler of the Ponting Collection said: The history of exploration in the Antarctic is fascinating, but, until the advent of Herbert Ponting, poorly represented in its photographic documentation. Most photographic records from the "Heroic Age" of Antarctic expeditions are of frustratingly low quality, which is why I was initially drawn to the exceptional calibre of Pontings photographs.
Aside from their scientific importance, the beauty and creativity of their compositions make them amongst some of the most captivating travel photography ever taken. As Naomi Rosenblum said in her World History of Photography, "it is not surprising that some of Herbert Ponting's images from Scott's Terra Nova expedition should recall the freshness of vision that characterised the first views of the western American wilderness". When considering the challenges to photography in the extreme Antarctic climate, their power and genius are even more impressive.
I have committed 25 years to searching out the best-preserved prints the first showing at the 1913-14 Fine Arts Society's Exhibitions of Ponting's Terra Nova photographs and am delighted to be presenting this fine collection at the ATLAS Gallery.
Captain Scotts ill-fated polar trek remains imprinted in the public consciousness as the venture in which Scott was beaten to the South Pole by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, only to perish during his return journey, along with four other members of the polar party.
The ATLAS Gallerys exhibition will mark the centenary of the death of Captain Scott and his men, as well as the National Service of Commemoration in honour of Scott, which will be held at St Pauls Cathedral, 29 March 2012.