'Sketch for picture' (a relic from the search for Franklin, 1852-54) Signed 'W.W. May' and inscribed (lower left) pencil heightened with white 28 x 45.4cm (11 x 17 7/8in).
The loss of the Franklin Polar Expedition of 1845 was a cause for National concern and following agitation by Lady Franklin, the Admiralty mounted several search expeditions including one under Sir Edward Belcher in 1852. Sailing in five ships; HMS Assistance, Resolute, Pioneer, Intrepid and North Star they searched unsuccessfully until 1854, when four of the vessels were nipped in the Polar ice and abandoned. The entire party returned home on HMS North Star together with the rescued crew of HMS Investigator.
Captain Walter William May served on the Belcher expedition, and some of his sketches are preserved at the National Maritime Museum. Of the five vessels employed, only two were steamers, and the vessel depicted in this view most closely resembles HMS Intrepid.