an extremely rare portrait ship in a bottle of fridtjof nansens polar exploration ship the Fram of 1893 -96 ( meaning forward ).
the ship in bottle dates to the late 1890's, mounted on an oak arts and crafts style cradle. the bottle appears to be an aquavit bottle of the period.
it is probable that the art work was made onboard the Fram by a crew member when she was trapped in the polar ice for nearly 3 years during fridtjof nansens polar expedition 1893-1896. there is an illegible label with a hand written name on the inside of the underside of the bottle neck likely to be that of the artist.
the artist has created the scene with an accurately represented fram under full steam flying the Norwegian ensign and Fram name pennant at her topmast breaking through a sea of pack ice , a scene that only someone with an intimate knowledge of the ship in its polar environment would likely be able to reproduce.
the Fram went on to be chosen by her old captain Otto Sverdrup for his expedition to the North Canadian Archipelago 1898-1902 and then by roald amundsen on his successful expedition 1910 -1912 to be the first man to reach the South Pole. After Amundsen had landed on the South Pole at the Bay of Whales he set up a base camp on the ross ice shelf naming it Framheim, home of fram.
nansen, sverdrup and Amundsen all named the Fram in the titles of their published accounts of their expeditions.
the ship in bottle as folkart is probably, unfairly the greatest cliche of maritime folkart and as such is often overlooked. the amount of skill , artistry and maritime knowledge can not be underestimated in each creation. sculpting ships in bottles became fashionable in the 19th century ,helped by the introduction of mass produced clear glass bottles, an explosion in maritime trade and the desire to bring home a token , souvenir of travel on the high seas. the genuine sailor art form continued into the early 20th century when finally it fell out of fashion with mariners. an original sailor made ship in bottle served as a poignant reminder of the magnificence of both – the vessels and the maritime domain. the ship in bottle was often given as a token of love or endearment. it would have held pride of place in a loved ones home. ships in bottles in their heyday were solely the creations of sailors. to own a ship in a bottle would portray to the onlooker that the custodian was associated with an adventurer, a world explorer who would ride the tempest and all that Neptune and his sirens could conjure, to get safely back to his love. it would also serve as a message in a bottle to any of the artists maritime peers that when it came to the sea and who ever may sail , that he really knew what he was talking about.