Elisha Kane


Elisha Kent Kane (1820–57) was an American Arctic explorer. He studied medicine in his native Philadelphia and in 1843 entered the U.S. Navy as a surgeon. In 1850 he sailed as the senior medical officer and naturalist on an expedition in search of Sir John Franklin (1786–1847), the British naval officer and explorer who had been missing in the Canadian Arctic since 1845. Funded by New York merchant Henry Grinnell and carried out by the U.S. Navy, the expedition explored Lancaster Sound and Wellington Channel and found one of Franklin's camps but no trace of the men. The expedition was led by Lieutenant Edwin Jesse De Haven and consisted of two ships, the brigs Advance and Rescue. In 1853–55 Kane commanded a second expedition, also funded by Grinnell, which also failed to find Franklin. Kane wrote books about both of his Arctic adventures. The image is from an album of mostly Civil War-era portraits by the famous American photographer Matthew Brady (circa 1823‒96) that belonged to Emperor Pedro II of Brazil (1825‒91), a collector of photography as well as a photographer himself. The album was a gift to the emperor from Edward Anthony (1818‒88), another early American photographer who, in partnership with his brother, owned a company that in the 1850s became the leading seller of photographic supplies in the United States. Dom Pedro may have acquired the album during a trip to the United States in 1876 when he, along with President Ulysses S. Grant, opened the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Brady was born in upstate New York, the son of immigrants from Ireland. Best known for his photographs documenting the battles of the American Civil War, he began his career in 1844 when he opened a daguerreotype portrait studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Streets in New York City. Over the course of the next several decades, Brady produced portraits of leading American public figures, many of which were published as engravings in magazines and newspapers. In 1858 he opened a branch in Washington, DC. The album, which also contains a small number of non-photographic prints, is part of the Thereza Christina Maria Collection at the National Library of Brazil. The collection is composed of 21,742 photos assembled by Emperor Pedro II throughout his life and donated by him to the national library. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects. It documents the achievements of Brazil and Brazilians in the 19th century and also includes many photographs of Europe, Africa, and North America.

Last updated: January 8, 2018