Banks' Florilegium


Selected works from The Holmes à Court Collection

06 April - 01 June 2003

"...When I reflect on the youth and affluence of this enterprising Gent: I am filled with wonder to see how conspicuously the contempt of dangers, and the love of excelling in his favourite studies stand forth in his character... if he survives with what delight shall we pursue his Journals, his Fauna, his Flora..."

Extract from a letter written by Gilbert White of Selborne dated 8 October 1768 to Thomas Pennant, referring to Joseph Banks after the latter had set sail for the Pacific on board the Endeavour.

Banks’ Florilegium consists of 738 botanical engravings, which record the plants collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Carl Solander, drawn by Sydney Parkinson on Captain Cook’s first voyage around the world 1768 - 1771. Printed from the original 18th century copperplates bequeathed by Sir Joseph Banks to the British Museum, this edition was produced from 1989 - 1990. They are exceptionally fine examples of the engraver’s art and include some of the first Australian plants to engage the scientific attention of European explorers.

This exhibition features selected engravings from The Holmes à Court Collection’s Banks’ Florilegium and related fossils from The Western Australian Museum’s Palaeontology department. The exhibition highlights the fact that many of the main sites collected by Banks in the Southern Hemisphere were once joined together as part of a great supercontinent - Gondwana.

Banks’ Florilegium is a collection of historical importance and although well known has rarely been shown.
Related link: The Western Australian Museum