The Artistic Legacy of Joseph Banks

Illustration of a striped cowfish by William Wade Ellis.

An illustration of a striped cowfish (Aracana aurita) by William Wade Ellis (1751-1785) on Captain Cook's third and final Pacific voyage.

This exhibition is now closed.

The Artistic Legacy of Joseph Banks was open from 17 May 2021 to 13 January 2022.

The display of artworks and manuscripts explored the life and interests of Joseph Banks (1743-1820) through some of his extraordinary collections.

Banks was one of the most influential people in British science in the late 1700s. Thanks to a large inherited fortune, he dramatically changed how many people understood the natural world and used its resources. 

Display highlights included:

A copy of Journal of a Voyage to Newfoundland, and Labrador

A handwritten copy of Banks's first voyage in 1766 to Newfoundland and Labrador copied by his sister, Sarah Sophia Banks.

Flora and fauna from around the world

Eighteenth century depictions of flora and fauna from Australia, South and West Africa, the United States, China and India.

Artworks by Franz Bauer

Exquisite artworks by the master of scientific botanical illustration, Franz Bauer (1758-1840).

Items from Captain Cook's Endeavour voyage

An original artwork and a herbarium specimen from Captain Cook's Endeavour voyage of 1768-1771.

Artworks by Johann Jacob Dillenius

Early eighteenth-century depictions of plants by Johann Jacob Dillenius (1687-1747).

Watercolours of fossil fish and plants

A curious volume of watercolours of fossil fish and plants from Monte Bolca, Italy.