The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Sir Joseph Banks, Bt

Sir Joseph Banks, Bt, by Thomas Phillips, 1810 -NPG 885 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Sir Joseph Banks, Bt

by Thomas Phillips
55 1/2 in. x 44 in. (1410 mm x 1120 mm)
NPG 885

This portraitback to top

The manuscript Banks holds must refer to his Short Account of the Disease in Corn, called by the Farmers the Blight, the Mildew, and the Rust, completed in January 1805. [1]
Between 1808 and 1814 Phillips painted three types of portraits of Banks, of which NPG 885 is an example of the second. Head and pose derived from the first type of 1808, showing Banks as President of the Royal Society. Another version of this second type, painted in March 1810 for Sir Everard Home, is with the Linnean Society. [2] Phillips subsequently painted Thomas Murdoch who commissioned NPG 885. [3]

Footnotesback to top

1) A later edition of March 1806 additionally treated rust on barberry and its ability to carry infection to wheat, see H. B. Carter, Sir Joseph Banks, 1988, pp 404-05.
2) Phillips Sitter Book, 20 March 1810; no.290; another entry for 30 May 1810 reads: ‘Sir Jo. Banks 2nd time for Mr E. H. no.301’, partially erased.
3) Exhibited RA 1817 (73); sold Christie’s, 24 November 1972, lot 136.

Referenceback to top

Phillips Sitter Book, July 1810, no.204 (Jos Banks, 3rd Time, for Mr Murdoch. l.h.l. [i.e. long half length])

Physical descriptionback to top

Grey eyes, white hair, grey suit and stockings, with ribbon and star of the Bath, white neckcloth; green upholstered chair; deep red drape to right; to the left a paper inscribed: On ... Diseases/of Whea ... /by/Sr Josh Bank ....

Provenanceback to top

Commissioned by Thomas Murdoch (1758-1846); his son, Sir Thomas Murdoch KCMG;1 his son, Charles Stewart Murdoch, from whom purchased 1892.

1 Who had previously offered it to the NPG in December 1867 (sketched by Scharf, May 1868, Sir George Scharf's Trustees' Sketch Books, 13/65).

Exhibitionsback to top

Science and Music in the 18th century Bath, Bath 1977 (192); Chantrey, NPG, Sheffield, 1981; Apples to Atoms, Portraits of Scientists from Newton to Rutherford, NPG travelling exhibition, Science Museum, Norwich, Grasmere, Coalbrookdale, 1986-87.

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

View all known portraits for Sir Joseph Banks, Bt

View all known portraits for Thomas Phillips



Gallery blog

Read our latest news and have your say.

Join the conversation

Tell us More about our silhouettes, photograph of Hubert Leslie, Silhouettist

Identify our Silhouettes

Join enthusiastic contributors who have already identified 155 sitters.

Help transcribe signatures

Tell us More about our Silvy sitters, photograph of Camille Silvy, photographer with boy

Tell us more about our Silvy sitters

Help us identify the sitters who visited Camille Silvy’s photographic studio during the 1860s.

Identify our sitters