Decorative portrait of Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) shown as president of the Royal Society and wearing the insignia of the Order of the Bath.
Banks was a naturalist and traveller and the inspiration behind many of the British voyages and discoveries of the late eighteenth century. He developed a love of botany while at Christ Church, Oxford and was elected to the Royal Society in 1766. In 1768-71, he travelled in the Endeavour on James Cook’s first voyage, having had the ship fitted out at his own expense. After returning to England, he became a great proponent for the establishment of a penal colony at Botany Bay, earning him the title of ‘Father of Australia’. His interest and support for Australia remained with him all his life.