Portrait of Alexander Dalrymple by John Thomas Seton

This portrait of Alexander Dalrymple shows an important figure from the Scottish Enlightenment, who was responsible for setting up the Hydrographic Office, and providing charts of the oceans which helped to underpin the growth of the British Empire.


Oil on canvas
91.4 x 71.1 cm
Art Fund grant:
£15,000 ( Total: £137,500; Export stopped)
Acquired in:
Nevill Keating Pictures Ltd

It is the only known painted portrait of him. It is thought to have been painted in the family home at Newhailes by the Edinburgh portraitist Seton and show Dalrymple in his East India Company's sea-officer's uniform. Seton became known for his accomplished studies of Edinburgh high society and this is a relatively early work in his wide output.


? Sir David Dalrymple of Newhailes; Isaac Swainson, 1952; HS Cowper Essex, 1950s; Leger Galleries Ltd; Harry Zucker Esq; Alan Bond Collection, 1988; Nevill Keating Pictures Ltd. This work was vetted by the Art Loss Register in 2008.

Venue details

National Museum of Scotland Chambers Street, EDINBURGH Edinburgh EH1 1JF 0300 123 6789 www.nms.ac.uk

Entry details

50% off with National Art Pass

Daily, 10am – 5pm 26 Dec and 1 Jan, 12 – 5pm Closed 25 Dec

Share this article