Logo: Silhouette of William Hunter

Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery William Hunter Collections:
GLAHA 9191

This information is © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2017

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GLAHM 9191: Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) 1773 - click to view larger image

Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) 1773


CRE SMITH, John Raphael; (English; 1752-1812) AFTER WEST, Benjamin; (American; 1738-1820)

printed in black
61.5 x 38.0
From the founder, WIlliam Hunter's collection. Sir Joseph From the founder, Dr William Hunter's collection. West painted the magnificent portrait (Lincoln, Usher Art Gallery), from which Smith engraved this mezzotint, in 1771, shortly after Mr Banks's triumphant return from the South Seas. Banks is represented surrounded by objects collected on the voyage, some of which ended up in Hunter's Museum, including many examples of the Maori bark cloth in which he has wrapped himself. That Banks chose the royal painter West for his portrait is an indication of the young man's ambition, as the artist was famous for his depictions of contemporary heroes. Joseph Banks (1743-1820) was the chief naturalist on Captain Cook's first voyage (1768-71), collecting numerous specimens. After their return to London, the zoological material was dispersed through a complex network of scientists, collectors, and dealers. Hunter acquired shells, corals and insects, both directly from Banks, and through medical and scientific acquaintances. In his Two introductory lectures(1784, p.6) Hunter recorded a visit of c1775 to his Museum from Banks with the Tahitian Omai: 'Accordingly we find, in fact, that the south-sea-Islanders who have been left to their own observation and reasoning, without the assistance of letters, have yet a considerable share of rude, or wild anatomical and philosophical knowledge. When Omai was in this museum, with Mr Banks, though he could not explain himself intelligibly, we plainly saw that he knew the principal parts of the body, and something likewise of their uses; and manifested a great curiosity, or desire of having the functions of the internal parts of the body explained to him; particularly the relative functions of the two sexes, which, with him, seemed to be the most interesting object of the human mind.'

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