Herbert PONTING, Meares and Captain Oates at the blubber stove Enlarge 1 /1


England 1870 – 1935

Meares and Captain Oates at the blubber stove 1911 Materials & Technique: photographs, dark blue-green carbon photograph enlargement using carbon tissue transfer process Support: card and orginal exhibition frames form New Zealand 1925-26

Primary Insc: signed in ink lower right image HG Ponting
Secondary Insc: ”Meares and Capt Oates at the blubeer(?) stove” Cat #257 This description is on the back of the photo’s in a original label verso “New Zealand & South Seas International Exhibition,1925-1926 Dunedin” And a name is inscribed in ink next to the label as follows- “On Loan From Robert Grae 54 Borich Rd Glen Eden. it also has another label from a framer as follows, Fine Art Dealers –Eatons,/ Picture Frames, 55 Wills St Wellington.
Dimensions: image 45.7 h x 34.7 w cm sheet 46.8 h x 35.9 w cm frame 114.3 h x 86.9 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2009
Accession No: NGA 2009.923

Cecil Henry Meares, a linguist, was taken on by Scott as a Russian interpreter, and was also the chief dog handler. Lawrence Edward Grace Oates, nicknamed 'Titus' was devoted to animals and was especially knowledgeable about horses. Here the two men, Oates on the right, have been captured by Ponting relaxing in the stables at the winter quarters at Cape Evans, where they were constantly found cooking bran-mash for the ponies. Seal blubber was used rather than the traditional fuel which was saved for the main hut and the sledging expeditions.Meares returned home in March 1912. Oates, however, accompanied Scott to the Pole and is famous for his honorable suicide after the men, starving and exhausted, were unable to continue. Alert to the fact that his ill-health was compromising his companions' chance of survival, he told them, ‘I am just going outside and may be some time’ before leaving the tent and walking out into a blizzard.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra