Following a distinguished career in the British navy, Sir John Ross turned his attention to Arctic exploration. Though many explorers had failed before him, in 1818 Ross commanded an expedition to discover the Northwest Passage. This sea route connected the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans via the Arctic Ocean, and was notoriously difficult to navigate. In the event Ross’ first expedition did not improve existing knowledge of the region but did open up a route for whaling ships to northern Baffin Bay. Ross would make two further voyages to the Arctic, the second between 1829 and 1833, the third in 1850. These plates are from an edition of Ross' travel account, AVoyage of Discovery, in the Grenville Collection.
The Scott Polar Research Institute of the University of Cambridge holds eighty-one original watercolours by Ross from the Second Voyage.