Sydney Parkinson

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Sydney Parkinson - self-portrait

Sydney Parkinson (c. 1745 – 26 January 1771) was a Scottish botanical illustrator and natural history artist. He was the first European artist to visit Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti.[1]

Parkinson was employed by Joseph Banks to travel with him on James Cook's first voyage to the Pacific in 1768,[2] in HMS Endeavour. Parkinson made nearly a thousand drawings of plants and animals collected by Banks and Daniel Solander on the voyage. He had to work in difficult conditions, living and working in a small cabin surrounded by hundreds of specimens. In Tahiti he was plagued by swarms of flies which ate the paint as he worked. He died at sea on the way to Cape Town of dysentery contracted at Princes' Island off the western end of Java. Banks paid his outstanding salary to his brother.

Parkinson is commemorated in the common and scientific name of the Parkinson's petrel Procellaria parkinsoni. The great Florilegium of his work was finally published in 1988 by Alecto Historical Editions in 35 volumes and has since been digitized by the Natural History Museum in London.

In 1986 he was honoured on a postage stamp depicting his portrait issued by Australia Post [1]

The following are some examples of Parkinson's artistic work:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paul Barker, "Wide-eyes on a painted ocean", The Guardian, republished in Sydney Morning Herald, 10 July 1999, Spectrum, p. 13s
  2. ^ "Sydney Parkinson, botanical draughtsman". Enlarging the prospects of happiness: European travel writing through the ages. Online exhibition. University of Otago. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  3. ^ IPNI.  Parkinson.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • de Bray, Lys (2001). The Art of Botanical Illustration: A history of classic illustrators and their achievements, pp. 72, 77. Quantum Publishing Ltd., London. ISBN 1-86160-425-4.