Campaign launched to save Stubbs' kangaroo and dingo

A £200,000 Art Fund grant has kick-started an appeal by the National Maritime Museum to buy two significant paintings by celebrated British painter George Stubbs.

The works were commissioned by the scientist Sir Joseph Banks following his participation in James Cook's 'voyage of discovery' on HMS Endeavour, and are the first depictions of a kangaroo and a dingo in western art. Stubbs was the preeminent animal painter of his day, and modelled the works on stuffed animal skins brought back from Australia.

The paintings were first exhibited together in London in 1773 and have remained in the UK ever since. Because of their historical and artistic significance, they have been placed under an export bar while funds are raised.

The museum holds a rich exploration collection, and if the works are acquired they will be reunited with Nathaniel Dance's portrait of Cook. The portrait was also commissioned by Banks, and hung alongside Stubbs's paintings at Banks's house in Soho Square, London.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said “I cannot think of a better home for these two outstandingly important works by Stubbs than the National Maritime Museum, whose collection covers the important interrelationship between art, science and exploration.

"We are delighted to be supporting both the acquisition and education plans for these paintings, helping audiences to engage with a key episode in the history of exploration. I urge everyone to support the museum in the final leg of their appeal.”

Fundraising campaign

£3.4 million in funding has already been secured thanks to grants from the Art Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund, which will go towards the purchase of the works, much-needed conservation, and a public programme to make the paintings accessible to the widest audience possible.

To donate to the appeal, either text STUB35 to 70070, visit the JustGiving website, or donate in person at the museum. Visitors to the museum can also see the paintings in the Sammy Ofer Wing, where they will be on display throughout the fundraising campaign. For more information, visit the Save our Stubbs website.

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