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An animal found on the coast of New Holland, called Kanguroo [kangaroo] (untitled)


Object connections:

User collections Captain Cook's First Voyage by NMMCollections
Gallery locationNot on display

Object details:

Object ID PAJ3959
Description Engraved by Byrne from the painting commissioned by Joseph Banks from George Stubbs, also in the Museum collection since 2013 (see ZBA5754). It was based on the probably stuffed or inflated skin of a wallaby that Banks's greyhound had caught at Endeavour River, Queensland, in July 1770, and the skulls of kangaroos which Cook's party had shot and eaten while they were repairing the 'Endeavour' there after running aground on the Great Barrier Reef, during the voyage of 1768-71. The print appeared in the relevant part of John Hawkesworth's, 'An account of the Voyages undertaken by the order of His present Majesty, for making discoveries in the southern hemisphere (1773), vol 3, plate no. 20, p. 277. Cook first himself saw one of these creatures on 24 June and noted on 4 August that 'the Animal which I have before mentioned is called by the natives Kangooroo or Kanguru'. In 1897 W. E. Ling-Roth made a study of Aborigines of north-west central Queensland and found the name may have originated from Cook trying to ask local people what the animal was called and misunderstanding the answer - ‘ganguru’ - which in fact meant ‘I don’t understand your question’. The spelling ‘kangaroo’ only became standard by about 1820. The print is in reverse orientation to the original oil painting, which is one of a pair with Stubbs's rather less accurate image of a dingo (ZBA5755).
Date made circa 1773

Artist/Maker Byrne, William
Stubbs, George
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials engraving; etching; cream, medium, handmade, laid paper
Measurements Primary support: 315 mm x 482 mm; Mount: 560 mm x 406 mm
  • An animal found on the coast of New Holland, called Kanguroo [kangaroo] (untitled) (PAJ3959)
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