Images of the Arctic
Travel narratives, paintings and photographs
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This chapter explores key themes in Arctic images which impacted on subsequent representations through text, painting and photography. Bernard Smith's analysis of the paintings representing the Cook voyages has made clear that images were rarely created in their entirety with the object in view. Theories constructed around images from temperate and tropical lands cannot be assumed to apply to the polar regions. Many Arctic images are so distinctly different that the universality of some theories of representation must be questioned. Despite a conference and book which foregrounded Arctic photography, there has been little sustained interest in interpreting the art and photography of the region in a wider historical context. Arctic art depicted an 'otherness' in which dissimilarities outweighed similarities, seascapes were more common than landscapes, and the condition of the people was more akin to prehistory than pre-industry.

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