Basic Biographical Details

Name: Alexander Nasmyth
Born: 1758
Died: 10 April 1840
Bio Notes: Alexander Nasmyth was born in 1758, the son of Michael Nasmyth who was a successful builder in Edinburgh, based in the Grassmarket. The family had been masons for several generations. The younger Nasmyth attended the Royal High School in Edinburgh and was articled to a house painter and decorator. He was noticed by Allan Ramsay who employed him in his studio in London.

He returned to Edinburgh and set up business on his own account as a portrait painter. From 1782-4 he visited Italy. He was successful as a portrait painter but his political views damaged his relationship with aristocratic clients and he concentrated on landscape painting in the later part of his career. His connection to architecture came through his work as a landscape consultant. Sir Uvedale Price considered there was a close connection between landscape painting and landscape gardening and that the two professions should be combined. Nasmyth built up a reputation as a consultant and was able to see a garden or park as a picturesque romantic composition. In various cases he suggested the site of the house and its architectural character which were worked out in detail by a professional architect. He even designed various buildings himself including a small house. In 1813 he was a prize-winner in the competition for the layout of the ground to the north of Calton Hill, the main emphasis being on the views to be created. He was also involved with the design of various bridges. He made designs for 'bow-and-string' bridges and roofs, a form of construction of which he appears to have been one of the theoretical pioneers.

He died in Edinburgh on 10 April 1840. His son Patrick Nasmyth was also a landscape painter and his son James Nasmyth became an engineer.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 147, York Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate 1840 

Buildings and Designs

This was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 111789St Bernard's WellDean Valley EdinburghScotland 
Item 2 of 111801Inveraray CastleInveraray ArgyllScotlandActed as landscape consultant for the 5th Duke of Argyll
Item 3 of 111801Rosneath Castle  DunbartonshireScotlandActed as consultant in landscaping scheme.
Item 4 of 111803Loudoun CastleGalston AyrshireScotlandActed as landscape consultant
Item 5 of 111805Bridge over the Dee, TonguelandKirkcudbright KirkcudbrightshireScotlandNasmyth was responsible for the architectural character of the large masonry arch which he provided with flanking turrets and castellated parapets.
Item 6 of 111806Dunglass  East LothianScotlandActed as landscape consultant
Item 7 of 111806Nelson Monument  EdinburghScotlandDesign favoured but proved too expensive so set aside in favour of Robert Burn's design.
Item 8 of 111806Taymouth CastleTaymouth PerthshireScotlandActed as landscape consultant
Item 9 of 111809Kinfauns CastleKinfauns PerthshireScotlandActed as landscape consultant
Item 10 of 11c. 1810Bridge, Almondell  West LothianScotland 
Item 11 of 111813Calton Hill, area to north, inc. Blenheim Pl, Brunswick St, Brunton Pl, Carlton Ter, Elm Row  EdinburghScotlandWas a prize winner in the competition


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 7Colvin, Howard2008A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840 London: YUP. 4th edition 
Item 2 of 7Cooksey, J C B1991Alexander Nasmyth Whittinghame 
Item 3 of 7DNB Dictionary of National Biography   
Item 4 of 7Institution of Civil Engineers2002Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers V.1 and 2 
Item 5 of 7Nasmyth, James1883The Autobiography of James Nasmyth   
Item 6 of 7National Galleries of Scotland1960Catalogue of Scottish Drawings   
Item 7 of 7Tait, A A1980The Landscape Garden in Scotland 1735-1835 Edinburgh 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Inverness Courier29 April 1840