John Alexander Gilfillan (1793-1864)
A young naval officer disembarking from a jolly boat
pencil and watercolour heightened with white on paper
1812 x 1634 in. (47 x 42.5 cm.)
It has been suggested that the present watercolour is a self portrait of the artist, Gilfillan, who was Jersey-born of Scottish parents and spent his early years in the navy, ahead of his career as an artist: '... he had an adventurous and well travelled youth, running away to sea as a cabin boy in a privateer, being shipwrecked and press-ganged before serving for eight years in the Royal Navy in the West Indies, Europe and the Far East. He began sketching while in the navy. A watercolour Self-Portrait in Naval Uniform (private collection) probably dates from 1812. Experiences during his seafaring period provided much subject matter for many later works.' (from Edith Frame's entry on Gilfillan in J. Kerr (ed.), The Dictionary of Australian Artists. Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870, Melbourne, 1992, p.293).
Mary Cuthbert Macfadzean, St Kilda Drive, Glasgow, and by descent to the present owner.
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