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Jessie Whyte
, c.1840

by Thomas Bock

pastel and chalk on paper laid down on cotton over Cedar strainer. (frame: 44.0 cm x 38.0 cm, support: 36.0 cm x 30.8 cm, sheet: 35.5 cm x 30.8 cm)

This drawing by Thomas Bock is believed to be a portrait of Jessie Whyte (née Walker, 1779–1864). Born in Berwickshire, Scotland, Jessie married George Whyte (d. 1836) in November 1805. They emigrated to Van Diemen’s Land with their family in 1832 and settled on a property, Kelvin Grove, near Campbell Town. Jessie’s daughter Margaret married settler and businessman William Robertson in Campbell Town in 1834. Robertson and his brothers-in-law James, George, Pringle, John and William Whyte, were among the Van Diemen’s Land investors involved in schemes for the expansion of pastoral activities into western Victoria from the mid-1830s onwards. The Whyte brothers took up land west of present-day Bacchus Marsh in 1837 before moving to what is now the town of Coleraine. James Whyte (1820–1862) later became a politician and was Premier of Tasmania from 1863 to 1866.

Thomas Bock was one of many colonial-era artists whose Australian career commenced in convictism. Exiled to Van Diemen’s Land under a fourteen-year sentence in 1824, Bock remained in Hobart after attaining a pardon several years later, eventually becoming the portraitist of choice for many colonists.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2017
Accession number: 2017.135