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.

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.

National Museum of Scotland

Chambers Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH1 1JF
0300 123 6789

Opening times

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

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