The despair of a crew locked in an icy prison for 11 months was recalled by Captain Back himself when writing the second of two books, Narrative of an Expedition in HMS Terror, in 1838. “The time since we left England, though but eight months, seemed longer than three years of my former not unadventurous life. Days were weeks, weeks months, months almost years.”
For Back, who had accompanied Franklin on three previous voyages, it was to be the final expedition beyond the Arctic Circle. When the ice finally thawed, the damaged Terror limped home, beaching when close to sinking on the shore of Lough Swilly in Ireland.
The watercolour appeared at the Bonhams Knightbridge Travel & Exploration sale on February 1 estimated at £10,000-15,000, but sold at £38,000 (plus 25% premium).
In September 2011, the auctioneers offered a similar Back watercolour from the Frozen Strait exhibition showing the Terror and one of her boats off a spectacular iceberg in the Davis Strait, between Canada and Greenland. It sold for £30,000.