Skip to main content

Sir John Franklin
, c. 1845

by E P. Hardy and D F. Murphy (engraver)

engraving on paper (sheet: 36.7 cm x 26.0 cm, image: 31.2 cm x 25.0 cm)

Sir John Franklin (1786–1847), Arctic explorer and governor, served under Matthew Flinders on the Investigator and later said that this experience fired his passion for exploration. After fighting in the Bellerophon at Trafalgar, in 1818 he made his first Arctic voyage, a fruitless expedition to locate the Northwest Passage, a sea route linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. From 1824 to 1828 he commanded another expedition to the Arctic which resulted in a knighthood. After 30 years of naval service, he accepted an appointment as lieutenant-governor of Tasmania, arriving in Hobart in 1837. Franklin, his wife Jane and his private secretary Alexander Maconochie brought progressive ideas about the cultural development of the colony and the reformation of the penal system, but powerful colonists, who profited from convict labour, harried him until he was recalled in 1843. Franklin disappeared on his final expedition to the Arctic in 1845. Jane Franklin sponsored four expeditions to find him before it was eventually established that he and all of his crew had perished.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2010
Accession number: 2010.102