Sir Joseph Banksc 1808–09

by Thomas Phillips

Joseph Banks, a wealthy naturalist and botanist, accompanied Captain James Cook on his first voyage to the Pacific and NSW on HMB Endeavour. In 1778, Banks was elected President of the Royal Society, a position he held for over 40 years. Banks was involved in almost every aspect of late 18th century Pacific exploration and the colonisation of NSW.

In this portrait, Banks is surrounded by symbols of his status. He wears the red sash and star of the Order of the Bath, bestowed in 1795. He was at the centre of European science — his talent lay not as a scientist, but rather as a consummate and unrivalled networker, whose networks of correspondents were spread across Europe.