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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 Fly Catching Macaroni (Sir Joseph Banks), 1772

Matthias Darly

etching on paper (frame: 43.7 cm x 36.3 cm depth 1.7 cm, plate-mark: 17.6 cm x 12.2 cm)

Joseph Banks KCB (1743-1820), naturalist, grew up on his father's Lincolnshire estate, Revesby, but his lifelong interest in botany developed at Eton and Oxford. At the age of twenty-five, he suggested to the council of the Royal Society that they recommend him for inclusion on the voyage of the Endeavour. With Daniel Solander, he collected hundreds of specimens of plants and animals of the South Seas, of which many are depicted in the volumes which have come to be known as Banks' Florilegium. One of the great stars of eighteenth century London, Banks was President of the Royal Society for more than forty years, from 1778 to 1820. His association with Australia far outlasted the voyage with Cook: it was he who recommended it as a site for a penal settlement; he was a patron of Matthew Flinders and others; and his keen interest in Australian natural history was sustained through correspondence with all the early governors of New South Wales. At one point, Carl Linnaeus suggested that the continent be named Banksia. From 1788 to about 1810, though Banks held no official post, his role as de facto head of Australian affairs was widely acknowledged; he was justly called 'the Father and Founder of the Australian colonies.' During this period, he was deeply involved in schemes to drain the fens around Revesby, his family seat in Lincolnshire, through a system of canals. As the fens dried up, great stretches of pasture became available and Boston sheep fair became a major venture. Banks thus became keenly interested in sheep, particularly merinos (the volume The sheep and wool correspondence of Joseph Banks runs to nearly 700 pages) and he was designated Groom of His Majesty's Spanish Flock. He was involved with the first public sale of the breed on 15 August 1804, at which John Macarthur made significant purchases for his property at Camden, New South Wales.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2018

Accession number: 2018.80

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Matthias Darly (age 52 in 1772)

Sir Joseph Banks KCB (age 29 in 1772)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Sir Joseph Banks, c. 1788 Benjamin West, John Raphael Smith
Sir Joseph Banks, c. 1788 Benjamin West, John Raphael Smith
Sir Joseph Banks, c. 1788 Benjamin West, John Raphael Smith
Sir Joseph Banks, c. 1788 Benjamin West, John Raphael Smith

In a good paddock

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2011

Celebrating a new painted portrait of Joseph Banks, Sarah Engledow spins a yarn of the naturalist, the first kangaroo in France and Don, a Spanish ram.

Portrait of Dr Johann Reinhold Forster and his son George Forster, c. 1780 Jean Francois Rigaud
Portrait of Dr Johann Reinhold Forster and his son George Forster, c. 1780 Jean Francois Rigaud
Portrait of Dr Johann Reinhold Forster and his son George Forster, c. 1780 Jean Francois Rigaud
Portrait of Dr Johann Reinhold Forster and his son George Forster, c. 1780 Jean Francois Rigaud

To the end of the earth

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2009

The portrait of Dr. Johann Reinhold Forster and his son George Forster from 1780, is one of the oldest in the NPG's collection.

Portrait of Captain James Cook RN, 1782 John Webber
Portrait of Captain James Cook RN, 1782 John Webber
Portrait of Captain James Cook RN, 1782 John Webber
Portrait of Captain James Cook RN, 1782 John Webber

Thrown together

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2009

Shipmates for years, James Cook and Joseph Banks each kept a journal but neither man shed light on their relationship.

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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.