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HomeContents > People > Photographers > William Thomas Domville

Dates:  1822 - 1879
Active:  Arctic

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for William Thomas Domville
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Dr. Domville was a man of many talents but is best remembered as the surgeon on HMS Resolute, one of the ships that traveled to the Arctic in 1852 in search of Sir John Franklin, whose expedition to find the Northwest Passage had disappeared in 1845. Domville’s journals from the period are profusely illustrated with his sketches and watercolors, but he also used a camera during the journey. Several calotype negatives made by him survive, providing eloquent testimony to the frigid conditions that trapped the rescue party. In addition to providing medical and photographic services, Domville organized theatrical entertainment for the stranded men. (The Resolute was trapped in the ice and abandoned, but subsequently broke free and was salvaged. The president’s desk in the Oval Office, a present from Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes, is made from the ship’s timbers.) Domville Point in Wellington Channel in the Arctic is named in his honor. Domville was later put in charge of Haslar Naval Hospital in Hampshire and was named honorary surgeon to the queen. No other photographs of his are known. 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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