De Kanguroo

This engraving is based on the first illustration of a kangaroo, originally drawn by George Stubbs from a specimen collected at Endeavour River in 1770 by James Cook’s crew, while the Endeavour was careened. This iconic image captured the public’s … Read Full Description


S/N: ANI-AA-STUBB-020–228734
Free Shipping

Within Australia

All orders ship free
within Australia

Rest of the World

Orders over A$300
ship free worldwide

See Shipping page for Terms & Conditions


Full Title:

De Kanguroo




In good condition


Copper engraving hand coloured

Image Size: 

x 130mm

Frame Size: 

x 310mm
De Kanguroo - Antique Print from 1790

Genuine antique



This engraving is based on the first illustration of a kangaroo, originally drawn by George Stubbs from a specimen
collected at Endeavour River in 1770 by James Cook’s crew, while the Endeavour
was careened. This iconic image captured the public’s imagination for
over sixty years and was the first depiction of any Australian animal in
western art.

Joseph Banks wrote of the first sighting
on 22 June 1770, ‘The People who were sent to the other side of the
water in order to shoot Pigeons saw an animal as large as a grey hound,
of a mouse colour and very swift …’

Cook wrote after seeing a kangaroo on 24
June 1770, ‘I saw my self this morning a little way from the ship one
of the Animals before spoke off, it was of a light Mouse colour and the
full size of a grey hound and shaped in every respect like one.’

James Cook on 4 August 1770, states ‘the Animal which I have before mentioned is called by the natives Kangooroo or Kanguru.’ 

Modern common name Eastern Grey Kangaroo

Modern binomial name Macropus giganteus

First described Shaw 1790 Distribution Eastern Australia S.A., Vic, TAS, NSW and QLD.

Reference The Mammals of Australia, Strahan, 2nd edition. Page: 335-338, ill. 335-337

exists as to the original species described, based on the specimens
brought back by Cook and the subsequent painting by Stubbs. This
situation arose in the comparisons of drawings and photographs which are
the only records of the lost original specimens, with Parkinson’s
sketch made on 23rd June 1770 at Endeavour River and the later Stubbs
painting. Parkinon’s sketches and paintings of natural history subjects
held in public institutions, clearly show a prodigious artistic talent,
and his sketch of a kangaroo made on the spot, is certainly a more
realistic depiction than the later version painted by Stubbs that has
exaggerated features. Stubbs had the disadvantage of not seeing a live
animal and only having the dried skin that was brought back by Cook to
work from. It is probable that the skin was firstly re-hydrated and then
inflated for Stubbs to be able paint the animal. It has been
established that the kangaroos collected on Cook’s expedition near
Cooktown were specimens of the Grey Kangaroo, Macropus giganteus (Roland
Strachan CBOM p.244).

first sighting of a kangaroo in fact was an earlier one, by Francis
Pelsaert of “the teeming cats” on 15th November, 1629 on the Abrolhos
Islands where the Batavia had been wrecked. The first
illustration of a Macropod was made prior to the Stubbs illustration,
titled ‘Kangaron’ and made on 15th November 1629 by Matthys Pool and
described by Cornelis de Bruyn in ‘Reizen over Moskovie door Persie en
Indie’, 1714 but the animal depicted was not an Australian species but
Thylogale brunii (Dusky Pademelon), a Filander native to New Guinea.

In a study made by W.E.Ling-Roth of
the north-west central Queensland Aborigines in 1897, he found that
there might have been confusion with the word ‘ganguru’ which meant
simply ‘I don’t understand your question’. The spelling ‘kanguroo’
prevailed for nearly half a century until the modern became the version


George Stubbs (1724 - 1806)

Stubbs was classified in his lifetime as a sporting painter, and as such was excluded from full membership of the Royal Academy. He is best remembered for his paintings of horses and his conversation pieces. Having studied anatomy, Stubbs's pictures of horses are among the most accurate ever painted. Stubbs was born in Liverpool, the son of a leather worker, and he spent his early career painting portraits and developing his interest in anatomy. In the 1740s he lived in York and supplied the illustrations for a treatise on midwifery. Following a brief visit to Rome in 1754, he settled in Lincolnshire, where he researched his major publication, The Anatomy of the Horse. In about 1758 he moved to London, which remained his base. Early clients for his sporting and racing paintings included many of the noblemen who founded the Jockey Club. Like Gainsborough, he later painted scenes of peasant life, as well as studies of wild and exotic animals. He also became known as a printmaker and for his paintings in enamel on Wedgwood earthenware plaques.

View other items by George Stubbs

Choose currency

Exchange rates are only indicative. All orders will be processed in Australian dollars. The actual amount charged may vary depending on the exchange rate and conversion fees applied by your credit card issuer.



The List

Join our exclusive mailing list for first access to new acquisitions and special offers.