C1787

The Kanguroo an Animal found on the Coast of New Holland.

Early c.18th engraving of a kangaroo, based on a specimen collected at Endeavour River in 1770 by James Cook’s crew, while the Endeavour was careened and subsequently painted by George Stubbs in London. The original painting for this engraving by … Read Full Description

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S/N: ANAAS-ANI-AA-001R–321788
(B009)
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Details

Full Title:

The Kanguroo an Animal found on the Coast of New Holland.

Date:

C1787

Condition:

In good condition.

Technique:

Copper engraving.

Image Size: 

170mm 
x 118mm

Paper Size: 

233mm 
x 167mm
AUTHENTICITY
The Kanguroo an Animal found on the Coast of New Holland. - Antique Print from 1787

Genuine antique
dated:

1787

Description:

Early c.18th engraving of a kangaroo, based on a specimen collected at Endeavour River in 1770 by James Cook’s crew, while the Endeavour was careened and subsequently painted by George Stubbs in London.

The original painting for this engraving by George Stubbs hangs in the Queen’s House, Greenwich, along with its companion piece, Dingo. The paintings were commissioned by Sir Joseph Banks (1743–1820) shortly after his return from an expedition to the Pacific with Captain James Cook (1768–71). They were exhibited in 1773 and are understood to be the earliest depictions of these iconic Australian animals in European art. Stubbs was predominantly a horse painter and had never seen a kangaroo or dingo in real life. He worked from notes, verbal descriptions, pencil sketches made on the expedition, and a stuffed pelt.

In Cook’s accounts, 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.’

Naming;
1770 James Cook: On 4 August 1770 cook, states ‘the Animal which I have before mentioned is called by the natives Kangooroo or Kanguru.’
1897 Ling-Roth: 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 spelling became the version standard.

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.

Confusion exists as to the original species described in Cook’s published accounts, and the identification of 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 and of Parkinson’s sketch made on 23rd June 1770 at Endeavour River and the later Stubbs painting. Parkinson’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 to 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.

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 spelling became the version standard.

 

 

References:
Ferguson, J. A. Bibliography of Australia Volumes 1-8, Canberra 1976: 59.

Collections:
National Library Australia: Bib ID 4844910
State Library Victoria: RARELTF 910 B22N
State Library New South Wales: RECORD IDENTIFIER 74VK2vWoRWXM

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.

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