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Sir Joseph Banks Bt

Date: 1788
Overall: 953 x 695 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00015906
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    Sir Joseph Banks is shown in this portrait wearing a Maori flax cloak and standing next to a number of natural history specimens and a canoe. Banks gained fame as a botanist and patron of the natural sciences, receiving praise for his role in James Cook's first expedition to the Pacific. This portrait was taken from a painting by Benjamin West completed in December 1771 just five months after Banks returned on HMB ENDEAVOUR. West's painting was the first true full length portrait of Banks to be produced.
    SignificanceThis print represents an influential figure of the 18th and 19th century who played a key role in enhancing the knowledge and understanding of the natural world. Banks was instrumental in the development and exploration of Australia and portraits including this one helped cement his fame.
    HistorySir Joseph Banks was born at Westminster, England on 13 February 1743. Schooled at Harrow and Eton he displayed an early interest in the natural sciences. In 1764 after receiving his family's inheritance Banks left Oxford University where he was studying botany and decided to spend his time examining plants in the practical world. In 1766 he went on board HMS NIGER as it travelled to Newfoundland and collected many rock and natural specimens. Banks also conducted a number of field trips collecting and studying plants, historic sites and rock formations. In 1766 he was made a fellow of the Royal Society.

    Banks' most famous survey work was completed as part of the Royal Navy's expedition in HMB ENDEAVOUR to the Pacific under Captain James Cook. Equipped with a large fortune and a wealth of natural history experience Banks was recommended to the British Admiralty by the Royal Society. Banks had a staff of eight in attendance including naturalists Daniel Solander, H D Sporing and the artists Alexander Buchan and Sydney Parkinson. Between 1768 and 1771 Banks and his staff collected large amounts of specimens including seeds, shells, insects, bottled organisms and animals. He took many of the pieces back to England and formed an extensive collection of natural history objects.

    Banks had his portrait painted twice, once by Joshua Reynolds and the second time by the newly appointed President of the Royal Academy, Benjamin West. These portraits helped Banks build his celebrity status and establish his authority as a spokesman for Pacific exploration and botany. Benjamin West's original painting is held in the collection of the Usher Art Gallery, Lincoln, England.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: SIR JOSEPH BANKS Bt

    Web title: Sir Joseph Banks Bt

    Related People
    Engraver: J R Smith

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