Washington DC: Harris & Ewing, 1912. A splendid formal portrait of Admiral Robert Edwin Peary, best known for claiming to have reached the geographic North Pole with his expedition on April 6, 1909. In 1909 Peary wrote in his journal, "The Pole at last!!! The prize of 3 centuries, my dream and ambition for 23 years. Mine at last." In this head and shoulders portrait Peary sits ramrod straight in his navy uniform, and gazes triumphantly at the viewer from behind his imposing handlebar mustache.
The presentation inscription reads, "To my friend Zenas Crane, with best regards, Peary". A manuscript date "Feby 6, 1912", at the lower right. Zenas Crane (1840-1917) was a successful businessman (Crane & Co., the fine stationary firm), and a major sponsor of Peary's 1909 Race for the North Pole. Zenas Crane stepped in to back Peary when his major financial supporter passed away unexpectedly.
"Crane City" (at the northern most point on Ellesmere Island), the camp of igloos where Peary's team spent their winter making final preparations before attempting the treacherous crossing of the Arctic Ocean, was named in Zenas Crane's honor.
This portrait was taken at the renowned Washington DC photography studio of George Harris and Martha Ewing. The studio is noted for its formal portraits of famous Americans, including a series of candid photographs of Taft as he learns of his presidential nomination. George Harris donated his large collection of negatives to the Library of Congress, which preserves them as the Harris & Ewing Collection.
Gelatin silver print, 6 1/2 x 9", mounted on heavy card stock and signed on the mount. Very good condition. Item #23372