WEST, Benjamin
(b. 1738, Springfield, d. 1820, London)

Joseph Banks

Oil on canvas, 234 x 160 cm
Usher Art Gallery, Lincoln

Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) was a naturalist and patron of science. From an early age, his declared passion was natural history, and in particular, botany. He joined Captain Cook's 1768 expedition on the Endeavour to Tahiti for astronomical observations (to observe the transit of Venus).

In West's portrait he wears a Maori cloak and stands beside other trophies from New Zealand and Polynesia, as if in rebuke of his more conventional contemporaries who were portrayed in Rome with their purchases of classical antiquities.