The National Gallery of Australia Commits to Acquiring Two George Stubbs Kangaroo Paintings
The National Gallery of Australia today strongly reaffirmed its commitment to acquiring two iconic paintings by George Stubbs for Australia's national art collection. A portrait of the Kongourou from New Holland and a companion painting, A Portrait of a large Dog from New Holland, were painted by Stubbs in 1772 as a commission from naturalist and botanist Sir Joseph Banks, who played a vital role in the colonisation of Australia.
"The two Stubbs paintings remain central to the history of both Australian art and our colonisation. These are the first non-Indigenous paintings of Australia's iconic kangaroo and dingo, the first oils to be seen by Europeans of this newly discovered land," said Dr Ron Radford AM, Director, National Gallery of Australia.
"The Stubbs image of the kangaroo is an Australian icon. It was the basis for the kangaroo on Australia's first coat of arms and the source of countless popular engraved images of the kangaroo for over 60 years. Just this year it was used for a limited edition coin by the Royal Australian Mint. The National Gallery of Australia currently has more than 50 engravings related to this painting, and there exist many more. These works belong in Australia's national art collection, the country's largest and most balanced collection of Australian art," said Ron Radford.
It has been widely reported that the National Maritime Museum has commenced fund raising to acquire these works for its collection. The National Gallery of Australia considers that the National Maritime Museum does not have a strong case in support of acquiring the Stubbs paintings for its collection. The Maritime Museum is basing its claim on its position as a 'centre of excellence for the interpretation of Cook's three great voyages'. These works were painted after Cook's death and commissioned privately by Banks. They have remained in the Banks family ever since, and have a less prominent place in the Cook story.