Early c.19th engraving of a kangaroo, the female is shown with a Joey in its pouch. The pose with head turned to the left and paws close to its chest is based on the first image of the Kangaroo made … Read Full Description

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S/N: TNHOQ-064-ANI-AA–217203
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Full Title:







In good condition.


Copper engraving with original hand colouring.

Image Size: 

x 120mm

Paper Size: 

x 125mm
Kanguroo - Antique Print from 1811

Genuine antique



Early c.19th engraving of a kangaroo, the female is shown with a Joey in its pouch. The pose with head turned to the left and paws close to its chest is based on the first image of the Kangaroo made by George Stubbs and published as an engraving in the accounts of James Cook’s first voyage in 1773.

From The Natural history of quadrupeds and cetaceous animals. Norfolk.

The first illustration of a “Kangaroo” was drawn by George Stubbs from a specimen collected at Endeavour River in 1770 by James Cook’s crew while the Endeavour was being careened and issued in the official accounts of the voyage of the Endeavour. This iconic image captured the public’s imagination for over sixty years and was the first depiction of any Australian animal in western art. Confusion 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 disadvantages 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).

The 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.

From Cook’s published accounts Endeavour River Qld First sighting of a Kangaroo 22 June 1770 Joseph Banks;

‘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 sees a kangaroo 24 June 1770 James Cook;

‘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’.

The animal named 4 August 1770 James Cook;

‘the Animal which I have before mentioned is called by the natives Kangooroo or Kanguru.’

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 ‘don’t understand your question’. The spelling ‘kanguroo’ prevailed for nearly half a century until the modern version became the standard.

References: Lennox-boyd George Stubbs 1989 pg 138 plate 35.III, Hawkesworth An account of the Voyages, 1773 Plate 20, Younger Kangaroo Images Through.. 1988 Pg 47 ill. Pg 46.


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