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Thomas Pennant, c.1790

William Ridley (engraver)

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

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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

Accession number: 2012.113

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

William Ridley (age 26 in 1790)

Thomas Pennant (age 64 in 1790)

Subject professions

Science and technology

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