Collier explained the story behind this painting as follows: 'Henry Hudson, the great navigator, made his last voyage to the Polar Seas in 1610. In the summer of 1611 his crew mutinied and set him adrift in an open boat with his son, John Hudson, and some of the most infirm of the sailors. They were never heard of more.' This historical subject's resonance to a late nineteenth-century audience would have been the ongoing Arctic explorations and the futile search for the North-West Passage. Realising his fate, Hudson stares out at the viewer with the vast, Arctic landscape behind him.