Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Beyond the Spectacle: Indigenous Edinburgh

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Scotland EH1, United Kingdom

Created By: Beyond the Spectacle


John Sackhouse, an Inuit from Greenland, arrived in Scotland in 1816 aboard the whaling ship, the ‘Thomas and Ann.’ He often put on displays of his sailing and hunting skills in Leith Harbour, advertising via handbills, but within a year he had moved to Edinburgh to work as the protege of artist Alexander Nasmyth. After serving as an interpreter with the Admiralty Board, Sackhouse returned to Edinburgh in 1819 before succumbing to typhoid in February of that year. His portrait is currently on display in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

The SNPG also hold some of the first photographs of an Indigenous North American, those of Rev. Peter Jones (Mississauga Ojibwa), taken in Edinburgh during his lecture tour in 1845. As he wrote in a letter to his brother, John, he had become something of a celebrity during his tours of Britain in the 1830s and 1840s: "When my Indian name, Kahkewaquonaby, is announced to attend any public meetings, so great is the curiosity, the place is sure to be filled."

This point of interest is part of the tour: Beyond the Spectacle: Indigenous Edinburgh


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