A 118-year-old watercolour painting of a dead bird by a celebrated British explorer has been discovered inside a hut in Antarctica, researchers said today.
The painting labelled 1899 Tree Creeper has the initial T on it and is believed to be by Edward Wilson, who died on the ill-fated Scott expedition to the South Pole in 1912.
The Scott Expedition, officially the British Antarctic Expedition, which took place between 1910 and 1913, was led by Robert Falcon Scott of the UK.
The painting was found in a pile of papers covered in mould and penguin excrement in a hut built by Norwegian explorers, 'BBC News' reported.
"There was this gorgeous painting, I got such a fright that I jumped and shut the portfolio again," said Josefin Bergmark-Jimenez, paper conservator at the Antarctic Heritage Trust in the UK.
"I then took the painting out and could not stop looking at it - the colours, the vibrancy, it is such a beautiful piece of work," said Bergmark-Jimenez.
The discovery was made last year but had been kept as a secret so that conservators could restore some 1,500 other artifacts from two huts built by Norwegian explorers in Cape Adare in 1899.
Although buried under paper covered in mould and penguin excrement the darkness worked in favour of the watercolours, preserving the painting perfectly.
"Water colour paintings are particularly susceptible to light so the fact this work has spent more than 100 years tightly packed between other sheets of paper in completely dark and cold conditions is actually an ideal way to store it," said Bergmark-Jimenez.
Wilson was born in 1872 in Cheltenham, England, where an art gallery and museum are named after him and display permanent collections of his work.