New Zealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust announced on Tuesday, June 13, that its researchers had discovered an "almost perfectly preserved 118-year-old watercolour painting" in a historic hut in Antarctica.

English physician and explorer Dr. Edward Wilson, who died with Robert Falcon Scott and three others while returning from the South Pole in 1912, painted the depiction of a tree creeper bird specimen.

The painting was "among penguin-excrement, dust and mould covered papers" collected in September 2016 from a historic hut at Cape Adare, Antarctica. Antarctic Heritage Trust Paper Conservator Josefin Bergmark-Jimenez was cleaning the portfolio when she made the discovery.

"I opened it and there was this gorgeous painting… I got such a fright that I jumped and shut the portfolio again," Bergmark-Jimenez said. "I then took the painting out and couldn't stop looking at it - the colours, the vibrancy, it is such a beautiful piece of work. I couldn't believe it was there."

Wilson likely painted the work while recovering from tuberculosis in Europe, but how it came to be packed away to the hut in Cape Adare is a bit of a mystery, the trust says.

All the artefacts collected from the hut will eventually be returned there, "in accordance with the site's status as an Antarctic Specially Protected Area," the trust says.

News Corp Australia


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