GREELY, Adolphus W, and Ernest SHACKLETON. Black ink and red wash caricature refering to the American Polar explorer, and dominantly depicting Ernest Shackleton. On cardboard, measuring 26 x 20 cm; a little spotted. Circa 1909.
Shackleton had risen to fame after the Nimrod expedition of 1907–1909 and the portrait caricature is modelled on the famous portrait showing the explorer wearing a jumper and the harness for pulling a sledge. The seal on the leash he is addressing is called Adolphus, which in a Polar context can only refer to Adolphus Greely. The U.S. International Polar Year Expedition of 1881-4, led by Adolphus Greely, reached Lady Franklin Bay in August 1881 and established a scientific station. The failure of supply ships to reach the expedition in the next 2 years forced Greely to abandon the station and retreat to Cape Sabine. The resulting loss of many on the expedition sent a shock wave through America and interested parties elsewhere in the world. Greely became a celebrated hero. An official reception was given to surviving members of the expedition. A 15000-strong crowd turned out to view a procession of some 2000 men past a stand on which the survivors were seated. The proceedings continued in the Music Hall, in which a series of addresses were made to resounding applause. These included a letter read out on behalf of Greely (understandably still too weak to do so himself) and an address by Commander Schley who rescued the remaining expedition members. In 1886 Greely awarded the Royal Geographical Society's Founder's Medal and the Roquette Medal of the Societe de Geographie. Part of the Columbian Exposition in 1893 was an exibition on the expedition, and stereoscopic images were sold. - By the time this cartoon was made, after Shackleton had become famous, the Greely expedition was probably almost forgotten and not talk of the day anymore. We don't know to what purpose the drawing was made.