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George Zobel after William Simpson : “England and America. The Visit of Her Majesty Queen Victoria to the Arctic Ship Resolute” (1859)

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HMS Resolute was an Arctic discovery ship sent in search of Sir John Franklin’s doomed expedition to find the Northwest Passage. It became trapped in ice and abandoned in 1854, only to be discovered the following year — having drifted some 1,200 miles to the waters outside Baffin Bay — by the American whaler George Henry. Its return to England eased Anglo-American relations. In 1880 Queen Victoria presented a desk made from oak timbers of Resolute to President Rutherford B. Hayes. The so-called “Resolute desk” has been used by every president since Hayes, excepting Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Ford, from 1964-1977.

This lithograph after a painting by William Simpson celebrates Resolute’s return to England. The caption reads: “England and America. The Visit of Her Majesty Queen Victoria to the Arctic Ship Resolute _ December 16th, 1856. To whom this engraving is by special permission respectfully dedicated by her obedient servants, P&D Colnaghi & Co.”

Credit Line: Image Restoration by Adam Cuerden.

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