26th January 1771 - The death of Sydney Parkinson

[Batavia to Capetown]
First part little wind, the remainder calm and very hot; set up the Topmast Rigging, and clear'd ship between Decks, and wash her with Vinegar. Wind South Westerly; course South-East; distance 17 miles; latitude 9 degrees 56 minutes South; longitude 256 degrees 32 minutes West. Departed this life Mr. Sydney Parkinson, Natural History Painter to Mr. Banks, and soon after John Ravenhill, Sailmaker, a man much advanced in years.

Joseph Banks Journal
Tho better than yesterday my pains were still almost intolerable. In the Evening Mr Parkinson died and one of the ships crew.

Sydney Parkinson Journal
Sydney died on the 26th January 1771 On the way home, when the Endeavour called at Batavia for repairs, Parkinson was one of many who contracted dysentery, and he died at sea on 26 January 1771. In England later that year a dispute arose between Banks and Parkinson's brother, Stanfield. Banks had paid the latter £500 for balance of salary due and for Parkinson's papers and drawings. The papers were later lent to Stanfield Parkinson, who contrary to agreement had them transcribed for publication and was restrained by an injunction from doing so until the official account of the voyage had appeared. His book was published later in the same year, 1773, entitled A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, with a second enlarged edition in 1784. A result of the squabble was that although Hawkesworth, who edited the official account of the voyage, used Parkinson's papers and drawings freely he did not acknowledge them. Only two of Parkinson's illustrations in these books are of Australian subjects. His own contains a study of the two Aboriginals who opposed Cook at Botany Bay, and Hawkesworth has a view of the Endeavour River (Cooktown, Queensland). A third of a kangaroo, formerly attributed to Parkinson, is now known to have been from a painting by George Stubbs.

[Image: Book -- Banks -- Parkinson]

Parkinson was the first artist to set foot on Australian soil, to draw an authentic Australian landscape, and to portray Aboriginals from direct observation. A great quantity of his work survives. The British Museum has eighteen volumes of his plant drawings, of which eight, comprising 243 drawings, are of Australian plants, three volumes of zoological subjects, of which a few sketches relate to Australia, and many of his landscape and other drawings, mainly of Tahitian and New Zealand subjects. Parkinson was gentle, able and conscientious, noted, according to his brother, for 'his singular simplicity of conduct, his sincere regard for truth [and] his ardent thirst after knowledge'. Two portraits are known: a small head in oils in the British Museum (Natural History) and the engraved frontispiece to his Voyage.

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