About this artwork

John Sakeouse, dressed in thick oil skins, is shown holding a harpoon. He arrived in the port of Leith, having stowed away on board the 'Thomas and Ann'. He used the harbour to demonstrate his prowess with a harpoon, which was widely acclaimed. Nasmyth painted this small portrait in 1814, capturing not only his appearance but something of his strength of character. Sakeouse also took drawing lessons from Nasmyth. Sakeouse joined the arctic explorer, Captain John Ross, on his expedition in search of the North West Passage. He visited London before returning to Leith where he died of typhoid.

  • title: John Sakeouse, 1792 - 1819. Eskimo whaler and draughtsman
  • accession number: PG 2488
  • artist: Alexander NasmythScottish (1758 - 1840)
  • depicted: John Sakeouse
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Ethnicity Travel
  • materials: Oil on panel
  • date created: About 1816
  • measurements: 29.90 x 22.00 cm (framed: 44.40 x 37.00 x 7.60 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased 1981
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Alexander Nasmyth

Alexander Nasmyth

Nasmyth's impressive landscapes are his most significant contribution to painting in Scotland. One of his most famous works, however, is the portrait of his friend, the poet Robert Burns. Nasmyth, a pupil of Runciman, was assistant to Allan Ramsay and developed a sound appreciation of the importance of drawing to educate the artist's eye and hand. His interest in landscape painting stimulated his involvement with landscaping projects, including the layout of the grounds of Inveraray Castle. He was also an accomplished engineer, designing and building several bridges, and an influential teacher, inspiring many younger artists including his own children.