State Library of NSW
James Sinclair, a proud Scot, settled in Goulburn with his wife in 1843, having arrived in New South Wales in the late 1830s. Often said to be an architect, but more accurately described as a builder, Sinclair was responsible for many Goulburn buildings. His own house, St Clair Cottage, still stands.
It appears Sinclair over-extended himself and went bankrupt in 1851. Legend has it that he set out for the Victorian Goldfields in 1852 but met with foul play — his empty money belt was all that was found of him.
Sinclair hosted Backler on a visit to Goulburn in 1845, and the following year commissioned portraits of himself, his wife and their son. The Sinclair portraits celebrate their Australian wealth and Scottish heritage.