Joseph Banks’ Florilegium: Botanical Treasures from Cook’s First Voyage

This lecture and exhibition is free and open to the public. 

Joseph Banks accompanied Captain Cook on his first voyage around the world from 1768 to 1771, bringing back over 1,300 species that had never been seen or studied by Europeans. On his return, Banks commissioned over 700 superlative engravings between 1772 and 1784. Known collectively as Banks’ Florilegium, they are some of the most precise and exquisite examples of botanical illustration ever created. It was not until 1990 that a complete set in colour was issued in a boxed edition (limited to 100 copies) under the direction of the British Museum (Natural History). It is from these prints that the present selection is made for a new book, under David Mabberley’s direction. Joseph Banks’ Florilegium is not only a great work of science, but also a major achievement of collaborative Enlightenment art. Joseph Banks’ Florilegium is the first time these most precise, exquisite and outstanding botanical illustrations will be available in book form.

The ANU has set of 227 plates of the Florilegium, donated in 1985. Highlights of the collection are now on display in the Hancock Library.


Public lecture:
RN Robertson Lecture Theatre
RN Robertson Building #46
Sullivans Road

Exhibition and drinks:
Hancock Library
WK Hancock Building #122
Sullivans Creek Road


About the speaker

Professor David Mabberley is a botanist, educator and writer. Having performed fieldwork throughout Africa, Asia and the Pacific region and served as Executive Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust in Sydney. He is an Emeritus Fellow at Wadham College, Oxford, Adjunct Professor at Macquarie University, Sydney, and Professor Extraordinary at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands.