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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Mr John Eason

1838
W. B. Gould

oil on canvas (frame: 89.5 cm x 77.0 cm, support: 78.5 cm x 66.5 cm)

John Eason (1799–1858), shipwright, arrived in Hobart with his wife, Allison, around 1838, and established a shipbuilding operation at North West Bay in the early 1840s. Here, Eason constructed whaling ships and vessels ‘well adapted for the Coasting, Port Phillip or Sydney trade’, among them the Isabella (1840), Scotia (1841), Allison (1844) and Mary Ann (1849). Eason also appears to have spent some time at Macquarie Harbour in 1846 and 1847, during the period in which the former penal settlement on the remote west coast of the island was reopened as a shipyard. Tasmanian newspapers throughout the 1840s carry advertisements for several vessels of Eason’s design and construction, each considered to have been ‘constructed of the best materials, expressly for the colonial trade’. Eason died at his home on Watchorn Street, Hobart on 2 May 1858, his death notice describing him as ‘for many years a shipbuilder of this city’.

William Buelow Gould (1803–1853) is believed to have worked as a draftsman for the London printmaker, Rudolph Ackermann, and as a porcelain painter for Spode’s works in Staffordshire before being transported to Van Diemen’s Land for theft in 1827. Although skilled convicts were useful to the authorities, Gould soon began downgrading his worth through recidivism and a month after landing in Hobart had recorded the first of numerous misdemeanours. In June 1829, having attempted to pass a fake banknote, he was sentenced to three years at Macquarie Harbour, but was among those marooned when some of the convicts on the ship transporting him there (the Cyprus) mutinied and escaped on the stolen vessel. Gould was rewarded for not absconding with assignment to Colonial Surgeon, James Scott, for whom Gould produced one of the ‘most splendid collections of inimitable drawings not only of the plants but most of the birds of this island’. Despite this, Gould continued to offend and was banished to Macquarie Harbour again in 1832. Assigned to medical officer, William de Little, Gould collected and drew botanical and natural history specimens, creating the watercolours now contained in his exquisite ‘Sketchbook of fishes’. Gould completed his sentence at Port Arthur and received his certificate of freedom in 1835. Back in Hobart from early 1836, Gould set about earning a living for himself and his growing family through his painting. Though prolific, Gould’s practice was marred by poverty, alcoholism and further run-ins with the law. He died in Hobart in 1853, having produced landscapes and portraits along with the natural history illustrations and still life paintings for which he is now best known.

Purchased with funds provided by the Liangis family 2013

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

W. B. Gould (age 35 in 1838)

John Eason (age 39 in 1838)

Subject professions

Business, trades and industry

Supported by

Mrs Sortiria Liangis AM (12 portraits supported)

Related information

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Mr John Eason
Mr John Eason
Mr John Eason
Mr John Eason

The shipwright's arms

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2013

Joanna Gilmour explores the life and times of convict-turned-artist William Buelow Gould.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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