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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Thomas Pennant

c. 1790
William Ridley (engraver)

stipple engraving on paper (sheet: 20.3 cm x 12.6 cm, plate-mark: 16.0 cm x 10.5 cm)

Thomas Pennant (1726-1798), Welsh traveller, antiquary, naturalist, and author, visited Joseph Banks in September 1771, shortly after Banks returned from his voyage with Cook on the Endeavour. There, it has recently been suggested, he saw manuscript descriptions of various birds and other animals that had been encountered on the voyage, and acquired some specimens Banks had brought home. Among the Pennant papers in the National Library of Wales are descriptions of thirteen Australian landbird species. These stand as evidence that Banks took more specimens of Australian birds back to England than has previously been realised. ‘It is a strange quirk of history’, says the scholar David Medway, ‘that, today, more evidence in that regard is available from Pennant, who did not go on the voyage, than from Banks who did.’Given Pennant’s relationship with Banks, there has been speculation in the Journal of the Australian National Placenames Survey that Pennant Hills, in Sydney, was named for him.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2012

Artist and subject

William Ridley (age 26 in 1790)

Thomas Pennant (age 64 in 1790)

Subject professions

Science and technology

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency