The Endurance was crushed in the ice while exploring Antarctica in 1915. The crew survived an epic journey to safety led by Ernest Shackleton.
The Endurance is visible as a small white silhouette on the horizon. In both this painting and The Wreck of the Essex I experimented with depicting the ocean landscape as the most prominent dramatic element and presenting the human drama at a relatively small scale. The pack ice is based on another painting of an arctic scene, The Wreck of the Hope, by Casper David Friedrich.
I hadn’t thought of it until recently, but this composition puts me in mind of a favorite painting by Brueghel The Fall of Icarus, in which Icarus is barely visible as he disappears into the ocean. The world around him is completely uncaring and oblivious to his plight. This painting also inspired a memorable poem by Auden.