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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.

Jessie Whyte

c. 1840
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
Purchased 2017

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

Thomas Bock (age 50 in 1840)

Jessie Whyte (age 61 in 1840)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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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.

Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait

Fine and dandy

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2010

Whether the result of misadventure or misdemeanour, many accomplished artists were transported to Australia where they ultimately left a positive mark on the history of art in this country.

Alexander Pearce
executed for murder
July 19th 1824
Alexander Pearce
executed for murder
July 19th 1824
Alexander Pearce
executed for murder
July 19th 1824
Alexander Pearce
executed for murder
July 19th 1824

Public hanging

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2008

As a convict Thomas Bock was required to sketch executed murders for science; as a free man, fashionable society portraits.

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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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