This is a delightful set of four little original watercolour illustrations relating to the Race for the North Pole in 1909. The four little images were made by Charles Rennie Dowell ( 1867 - 1935)
They are all painted in watercolour on paper, laid down on card (sold unframed).
Charles R. Dowell was born in Glasgow and was best known for his paintings in oil and watercolour, especially his fine portraits and interiors, as well as his stunning views of fishing villages of the east coast of Scotland.
He studied at the Glasgow School of Art under the influential Fra Newbury and won a travelling scholarship to Rome. He was Vice-President of the prestigious Glasgow Art Club (members included many of the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists) and was elected a member of the Royal Society of Watercolours.
Dowell regularly exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, and at the Glasgow Institute. Works by Dowell are in the Collection of the Glasgow Art Gallery.
These four little humorous studies are rare and unique reactions to events taking place relating to early polar expeditions by the USA. The watercolours were made in 1910 by Dowell at his studio at 101 St Vincent Street in Glasgow (as annotated on the back of each image). The subject was inspired by the controversy about rival claims by two American explorers that they were the first person to reach the North Pole. The arguments put forward by each party continued to appear in newspapers and chronicles for a number of years.
Robert Peary (1856 - 1920 claimed to have led the first successful expedition to the Geographic North Pole on 6th April 1909. His competitor, Frederick Cook (1865 - 1940), refuted his claim and said that he had actually got there one year earlier on 21st April 1908. There was also a hint of the scandal with rumours of Peary fathering children with native Innuit women outside of marriage - this is probably being referred to in Dowell’s little sketch of a man rubbing noses with a pretty Eskimo lady.
Very interesting pieces of social history and dating from the time the controversy was raging. These contemporary caricatures are now very rare and this is reflected in my price for these special little records, lampooning American polar exploration at the start of the 20th century.
Probably items for a special archive or collection relating to early polar exploration and travel.