This engraving shows the members of the Arctic Council who were appointed by the Admiralty to search for Sir John Franklin's expedition to discover the North West Passage. When it was published in 1852, the engraving came with a key to the men portrayed, which began:
"At a moment like the present, when Great Britain, joined by Representatives of the Maritime Powers of France, Russia, and the United States of America, is making the most noble efforts for the recovery of Sir John Franklin and his gallant companions, and when, with the deepest interest and anxiety, the whole of the civilized world is looking for tidings of the lost Navigator, it has been considered not inopportune to submit to the inspection of the public a picture containing authentic portraits of the great Arctic Officers now among us, who have all won their laurels on the icy field, and many of whom have shared with Franklin the hardships and perils of his former voyages. Apart from the personal interest which attaches to the extraordinary fidelity, in character and expression, of the likenesses, the scene in which the actors are represented—for they are discussing the measures best to be adopted for the recovery of their absent brother officers and friends—will ever impart to the painting a two-fold value."
From left to right, the engraving shows:
Sir George Back, F.R.S.
Sir William Edward Parry
Captain Edward J Bird
Sir James Clark Ross
Sir Francis Beaufort
Captain W. A. Baillie Hamilton
Sir John Richardson
Captain F. W. Beechey
Behind the Arctic Council can be seen the portraits (from left to right) of Sir John Franklin, Captain James Fitzjames (his second in command) and Sir John Barrow.
Underneath this copy of the engraving have been pasted the signatures of the men in the picture. This was most likely done either by Sir John Franklin's wife, Lady Jane Franklin, or her companion and assistant, Sophy Cracroft.