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Dr Solander, 1772

an unknown artist

copper line engraving on paper (sheet: 21.4 cm x 12.5 cm, plate-mark: 10.5 cm x 10.0 cm)

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Daniel Solander (1733-1782), naturalist, was a student of Carl Linnaeus, the Swede who devised and systemised the classification of plants and animals used today. Arriving in London from Sweden in 1760, Solander became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1764 and began cataloguing plants at the British Museum. Not long after, he became known to Joseph Banks, and in 1768 he and Banks together applied to the King to obtain berths on James Cook's Endeavour. Having barely survived the dysentery that killed many of the Endeavour's crew, Solander returned to England to be fêted along with Banks for his scientific achievements. When Banks withdrew from Cook's second voyage, Solander followed suit; the pair went to Iceland and the Western Isles before Solander settled into the role of Banks's librarian and curator in London. Though he produced some significant treatises - including the first scientific account of the kangaroo - he gained a reputation for partying at the expense of cataloguing specimens. He grew corpulent and became a target for satire, and his scientific achievements went largely unrecognised in his lifetime. The first book-length biography of Solander was published in 1998.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2009

Accession number: 2009.12

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Daniel Solander (age 39 in 1772)

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