A Swedish pupil of Linnaeus, Daniel Solander came to Britain in 1760, where he was employed as an assistant at the British Museum. He was engaged by Sir Joseph Banks to sail with HMS Endeavour.
HMS Endeavour set sail from England, captained by the English explorer and navigator Captain Cook, to record the transit of Venus across the face of the sun, in Tahiti. But at the last minute botanist Sir Joseph Banks and his team of scientists, artists, servants and two dogs boarded to realise another, secret, mission: to investigate rumours of a huge land mass known as Terra Australis Incognita. They were away for three years, during which Solander and Banks collected and described an important collection of plants and animals from Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific islands.
This picture was painted by the young and talented artist Sydney Parkinson, who was appointed natural history artist for the voyage by Sir Joseph Banks. Paintings such as this showed Western eyes what lay beyond their shores, before the invention of photography. It was hard work for Parkinson and sadly he never made it home, dying of dysentery and fever on the return journey, aged 26.