(b. 1756/57, London, d. 1827, London)

The Fish Dinner

Pen and grey wash, 160 x 213 mm
Tate Gallery, London

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). His portrait was painted by Benjamin West.

In this satirical drawing he is shown about to tuck in to an alligator, an allusion to his zoological interests which together with botany and ethnography he did so much to promote, sometimes in opposition to more conservative members of London's learned societies.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.