Large 19th Century Antique Scottish Landscape Painting
A superb and beautifully detailed Scottish landscape by Alexander Nasmyth (Edinburgh 1758-1840). Oil on canvas, circa 1800.
Dimensions: 52"/ 132cm x 64"/ 188cm (Overall)
Biography: Nasmyth was born in Edinburgh on 9 September 1758.He studied at the Royal High School and the Trustees’ Academy and was apprenticed to a coachbuilder. Aged sixteen, he was taken to London by portrait painter Allan Ramsay where he worked on subordinate parts of Ramsay's works. Nasmyth returned to Edinburgh in 1778, where he worked as a portrait painter. He left in 1782 for Italy, where he remained two years furthering his studies.In Italy he devoted most of his attention to landscape painting.
Alexander Nasmyth - Robert Burns, 1759 - 1796. Poet
Nasmyth returned to Scotland where for the next few years he continued his career as a portraitist. He painted some works in the style of Ramsay, but most were conversation pieces with outdoor settings.His portrait of Robert Burns, who became a close friend, is now in the Scottish National Gallery. Eventually, Nasmyth’s strong Liberal opinions offended many of his aristocratic patrons in a politically charged Edinburgh, leading to a falling off in commissions for portraits, and in 1792 he completely abandoned the genre, turning instead to landscape painting. He also began painting scenery for theatres, an activity he continued for the next thirty years, and in 1796 painted a panorama.
His landscapes are all of 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, such as Inverary from the Sea, painted for the Duke of Argyll to show the setting a proposed lighthouse.
Nasmyth set up a drawing school and "instilled a whole generation with the importance of drawing as a tool of empirical investigation" his pupils included David Wilkie, David Roberts, Clarkson Stanfield and John Thomson of Duddingston and it was probably from him that John James Ruskin (father of John Ruskin) learned to paint as a schoolboy in Edinburgh in the later 1790s. Another successful pupil was the painter, teacher, art dealer and connoisseur Andrew Wilson, who had his first art training under Nasmyth.
Nasmyth died at home, 47 York Place (roughly opposite the house of Sir Henry Raeburn) in Edinburgh. He was buried in St Cuthbert's Churchyard at the west end of Princes Street.