The National Gallery has announced they’re buying two 18th Century George Stubbs paintings:
A portrait of the Kongouro (Kangaroo) from New Holland and a companion painting, A portrait of a large Dog from New Holland (Dingo) were painted by Stubbs in 1772 in response to a commission by naturalist Sir Joseph Banks. The small works have remained in the possession of descendants of the Banks family since then.
It was Banks who recommended to the British Government in the 1780s—well after Captain Cook’s death—that Australia should be colonised. He travelled with Captain Cook on his momentous 1768-70 Endeavour trip, which mapped the East Coast of Australia. Banks returned with the skin of a large kangaroo, and presumably one of a dingo. He commissioned the established animal artist George Stubbs, better known for his depictions of horses, to paint the ‘portraits’ of these Australian animals, which Stubbs did using the kangaroo skin and a number of skeletons, as well as rough sketches and verbal descriptions.
The paintings were first exhibited in the Royal Academy, London in 1773 and were published as engravings as a symbol of Australia in the account of Captain Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific. The paintings were some of the first significant images seen in Europe of the Australian continent.
It was only on 6 February that the British Government was placing an export bar on the paintings.
If a British buyer comes forward we could still miss out.
[Image: The Kongouro From New Holland, George Stubbs]