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Sir John Franklin
, c.1846

by Theresa Walker after David D'Angers

cast wax (frame: 9.0 cm x 6.5 cm)

Sir John Franklin (1786–1847), explorer and governor, served under Matthew Flinders on the Investigator in 1802–1803 and was signal midshipman on the Bellerophon at Trafalgar in 1805. In 1818 he made his first Arctic voyage, a fruitless expedition to locate a ‘Northwest Passage’ between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He ventured to the Arctic again in 1819, leading a three-year expedition across Canada, following which he became a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. From 1824 to 1828 he led another expedition to the region which was rewarded with a knighthood, an honorary doctorate from Oxford, and the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society of Paris. After 30 years’ naval service, he accepted an appointment as lieutenant-governor of Tasmania, arriving in Hobart in 1837. Franklin, his second wife Jane and his private secretary Alexander Maconochie brought progressive ideas about the cultural growth of the colony and the reformation of the penal system, but powerful colonists, enjoying convict labour, harried him until he was recalled in 1843. Franklin disappeared on his final expedition to the Arctic in 1845. His widow sponsored four expeditions to find him before it was established that he and all of his crew had perished.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2015
Accession number: 2015.63