Alexander Nasmyth Biography | Oil Paintings

9-9-1758 Edinburgh, SCO – 4-10-1840 Edinburgh, SCO

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Nasmyth, Alexander

Alexander Nasmyth studied art at the Royal High School and the Trustees’ Academy and was apprenticed to a coachbuilder in his early teens, and was talented enough that by age of sixteen, he was taken to London by the portrait painter Allan Ramsay, to further his study and work on small parts of Ramsay's portrait paintings. Alexander Nasmyth returned to Edinburgh, Scotland in 1778, and set up shop as a portrait painter. He was offered a loan by Patrick Miller of Dalswinton, to further his studies in Italy, and in 1782 he left for Italy and he remained there for two years devoting most of his time to landscape painting, and studying and making copies of the work by Claude Lorrain.

Alexander Nasmyth returned to Scotland where for the next few years he continued his career as a portraiture artist. He painted a few works in the style of Ramsay, however, most were conversation pieces with open-air settings. Eventually, Nasmyth’s strong Liberal opinions irritated a considerable lot of his noble supporters in a politically charged Edinburgh, leading to a falling off in portrait commissions, and by 1792 he had had enough and completely abandoned portraits, turning instead to landscape painting.

His landscapes are all of the actual places, and architecture is usually an important element. Some works were painted to illustrate the effects that new buildings would have on an area, today called an architectural rendering, such as Inverary from the Sea, painted for the Duke of Argyll to show the setting of a proposed lighthouse. Nasmith also had a great interest in engineering and proposed several ideas that were later widely used, although he never patented any of them.

Alexander Nasmyth's six daughters, who all became artists. His eldest son, Patrick Nasmyth, studied under his father, and also became a landscape artist. Another son, James Nasmyth, invented the steam hammer, which Alexander painted.

Art Movement: Romanticism.
Artists Influencing Alexander Nasmyth: Allan Ramsay.
He Traveled To Italy.
Painters Alexander Nasmyth Influenced: David Wilkie, David Roberts, Clarkson Stanfield, John Thomson.
Artist Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.

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