William Dickinson (Artist), Joshua Reynolds (After)

Joseph Banks Esq.

Joseph Banks Esq. by William Dickinson, Joshua Reynolds

Artwork Detail

In 1772, the renowned British explorer and botanist Joseph Banks (1743-1820) sat to the eminent painter Sir Joshua Reynolds for his first portrait, now in the National Portrait Gallery, London. Not yet thirty, Banks was already a celebrity, having recently returned from his three-year voyage to the South Pacific with James Cook, visiting Brazil, Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia between 1768 and 1771. He appears in his study wearing a fur-trimmed coat seated at a table in the presence of a globe and some books, his closed fist weighing down a stack of letters on which can be read the inscription from Horace’s Odes, 1, 7: Cras ingens iterabimus aequor: `Tomorrow we set out over the vast sea', thought to be a reference to the fact that Banks had recently been invited to accompany Cook on a second voyage.

Reynolds’s oil painting of Banks was exhibited at the 5th annual exhibition of the Royal Academy in 1773. The London engraver William Dickinson, who had a close working relationship with Reynolds, produced a mezzotint engraving of the celebrated oil painting, dated 30 January 1774, from his printers’ addresses in Bond Street and Charing Cross, London.

Joseph Banks Esq.
William Dickinson, Joshua Reynolds
Production date
mezzotint engraving, oil-based printing ink on laid paper, cream tone
504 x 357 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, bequest of John Lawford, 2023
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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