The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust (NZAHT) has discovered an almost-perfectly preserved, 118-year-old watercolour painting among penguin excrement, dust and mould-covered papers in a historic hut at Cape Adare, Antarctica.
The watercolour is a small bird painted by Dr Edward Wilson, who died in 1912 with Captain Robert Scott on their return trip to the South Pole.
The watercolour, found among a portfolio of papers inside a bunk at the hut at Cape Adare, is one of 1500 artefacts being restored by the Antarctic Heritage Trust.
Antarctic Heritage Trust Paper Conservator Josefin Bergmark-Jimenez found the painting. She was cleaning a paper portfolio collected from a bunk in one of two historic huts the Trust is to restore at Cape Adare.
“I opened it and there was this gorgeous painting… I got such a fright that I jumped and shut the portfolio again,” she was quoted as saying on the NZAHT website.
“I then took the painting out and couldn’t stop looking at it — the colours, the vibrancy — it is such a beautiful piece of work.
“I couldn’t believe it was there.”
The painting is labelled 1899 Tree Creeper and has the initial ‘T’ on it. It depicts a Tree Creeper bird specimen. The discovery was made in September 2016 but has been kept confidential until recently to enable the team to focus on restoring all 1500 artefacts from Cape Adare.
Image credit: Arctic Heritage Trust.