Credit: © The Royal Society
    Image number: RS.9544
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    Portrait of Joseph Banks

    Joseph Banks (1743 - 1820, British) , Naturalist
    Thomas Phillips (1770 - 1845, British) , Painter
    Object type
    Archive reference number
    height (painting): 1430mm
    width (painting): 1120mm
    Content object
    Half-length portrait of Banks, seated in the Royal Society’s Presidential chair surmounted by its coat of arms, looking directly to the viewer in imposing style. Banks wears a black coat with white lining over a white shirt and embroidered waistcoat; over the coat, the red ribbon and star of the Order of Bath. On a table before Banks is a red tasselled mace cushion with the Society’s Charles II mace in front and the Society’s George III silver inkstands. Behind is a marble fireplace with a lion’s head design and to the right of the picture, an empty Vice-Presidential chair. In his right hand, Banks holds Humphry Davy’s Royal Society Bakerian Lecture for 1808. On the table is a manuscript of “On an Improved Reflecting Circle by Don Jose de Mendoza y Rios”, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

    Joseph Banks was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1766, he served as its President from 1778 to 1820.
    SIR JOSEPH BANKS, (1743-1820) PRESIDENT, 1778-1820 by T.PHILLIPS.
    Sir Joseph Banks
    Council Rm. 1st fl
    Object history
    This portrait was commissioned originally by the Spanish scientist Jose de Mendoza y Rios (1761-1816) and exhibited in the Royal Academy in Spring 1809. Following the death the owner, it was presented by his executors, via Thomas Phillips, to the Royal Society [Letter, Thomas Phillips, 8 George Street, 3 June 1818, to William Thomas Brande, Secretary of the Royal Society. Miscellaneous Correspondence MC/1/57]. Council then gave instruction for its hanging: “Ordered that the picture be hung up in the place of the King of Bavaria’s portrait to be removed into the Meeting Room under the superintendence of Sir Everard Home and Mr Phillips.” [Royal Society Minutes of Council, CMO9 pp.165-166, meeting of 4 June 1818].

    This work and related images of Banks have been discussed in details by Patricia Fara [“The Royal Society’s portrait of Joseph Banks”, by Patricia Fara, Notes and Records of the Royal Society vol.51 no.2 (July 1997) pp.199-210].
    Associated place
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