Nasmyth, Patrick (1787-1831)

Nasmyth, Patrick (1787-1831)
Nasmyth, Patrick (1787-1831)

Patrick Nasmyth was a British artist predominantly known for his rugged landscapes depicting picturesque woodlands, rivers, and valleys. His style was often compared with the eminent Dutch landscape painter, Meindert Hobbema, although he was far from a copyist. Instead, preferring to study nature intently, and sketch from life. Such was his commitment to the great outdoors, that he often worked from a small mobile tent, allowing him to paint during the frequent Scottish rain. In fact, it could be said that his dedication to persevere in all weathers led to his demise when he caught pneumonia after standing too long on particularly damp ground while working on a sketch alongside the Thames.

He was trained by his father, Alexander Nasmyth (1758-1840), and exhibited at the Royal Academy, Society of British Artists, and British Institution. Numerous museums hold examples of his work including The Met in New York, the British Museum, and the V&A.


Royal Academy, Society of British Artists, British Institution, various venues in Edinburgh, Williamson Art Gallery in Birkenhead.

Public Collections

Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, The Met in New York, British Museum, V&A, Yale Center for British Art, Museum of Barnstaple North Devon, The Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, New Gallery Scotland, Newport Art Gallery, Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, Bury Art Museum, Eton College, Ferens Art Gallery, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, Government Art Collection, Guildhall Art Gallery, Hampshire Cultural Trust Headquarters in Winchester, Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Laing Art Gallery, Lotherton Hall, Leeds Museums and Galleries, Manchester Art Gallery.



Born in Edinburgh to Alexander Nasmyth (1758-1840), a landscape painter,

Learned to draw early, a precocious talent.

Injured his right hand so began to paint with his left.

C. 1803

Lost his hearing.


Moved to Lambeth, London.


Exhibited in Edinburgh.


Debuted at the Royal Academy with ‘View of Loch Katrine, Pershire, Scotland’. He exhibited 20 works in total between 1811 and 1830.
Debuted at the British Institution with ‘Loch Auchray and the entry to Lochcatrine, Stirlingshire.’ He exhibited 78 works between 1811 and 1831.


Became a founding member of the Royal Society of British Artists.


Died in Lambeth of pneumonia, which he contracted after painting a scene near London, during which he stood for a prolonged period on wet ground.


Mentioned in The Morning Post ahead of a sale at Christie’s.

“‘A view in Hampshire’ by Patrick Nasmyth, is sufficient proof that there have been men of genius born who never found their way into academies, and nevertheless did more than Academicians can accomplish. This is a transcript of nature rather than a picture. As in reality, everything is elaborated, and every part is strong. The intense feeling and simple taste of the author is stamped upon the scene. Crowded as are the details, every object keeps its place. There is no confusion, but only a richness of effect. The sense of air and distance is most beautiful, and creates a wonder equal to the admiration which the work excites. This is the perfection of a landscape, and willingly would see it amongst that collection which shall be illustrative of British art.”


Referred to in ‘The feeling for nature in Scottish poetry’ by John Veitch.

“Patrick Nasmyth (1786-1831), the son of Alexander, whom his father taught, was among the first, if not the very first, of Scottish artists to venture out on the wilds. He has left us a picture of 'Glenshira,' a wild Highland defile, rendered more wild by one or two solitary figures passing through it. In the cleaving of the rocky glen a burn makes its way over a cascade; one single yellowing birk-tree hangs off the straight on the rock to the right, gripping it as only the birk can do; some foxgloves that have shed their flowers rear their solitary stalks in the foreground. There is in it all a pure abandonment to free wild nature - that side of it which had not been touched in Scottish poetry.”


The mirror of literature, amusement, and instruction, 1832.

“This distinguished landscape painter was the son of Mr. Alexander Nasmyth, an artist who is still living and well known in Edinburgh, at which city Patrick was born about the year 1785. His education appears to have been good, and he was early initiated in the art of painting by his father, who constantly represented to him the many great advantages to be derived from the study of nature rather than from the old masters' productions, the greater portion of which have lost their original purity by time and the unskilful management of those persons who term themselves picture restorers. Far from confining himself to the usual method adopted by most young artists of servilely imitating old paintings, young Nasmyth very soon began to copy nature in all her varied freshness and beauty. Scotland contains much of the picturesque, and from this circumstance he seized every opportunity to cultivate his genius for landscape painting. With incessant application he studied the accidental formation of clouds and the shadows thrown by them on the earth; by which practice he acquired the art of delineating with precision the most pleasing effects. His style appears very agreeable and unaffected; he excelled however, only in rural scenery, in which his skies, distant hills, and the barks of the trees, are truly admirable. His foregrounds are always beautifully diversified, and every blade of grass is true to nature. He is not equal in every respect to Hobbima (sic), yet certainly approximates nearer to that celebrated master than any English artist.

In 1830, Mr. Nasmyth sold his valuable collection of original sketches and drawings for thirty pounds to George Pennell, Esq., who also purchased several of his exquisitely finished pictures, one of which a View in Lee Wood, near Bristol is now in the possession of Lord Northwick. Nasmyth was a constant exhibitor at the Royal Academy, the British Institution, &c., and his performances delighted the uninstructed spectator as well as the connoisseur.

In person, he was of the middle stature, and possessed a manly countenance with an agreeable figure. In conversation he was vivacious and witty, especially when in company with a convivial party. His character, in some respects, was similar to that of George Morland; he was rather too much addicted to convivial pleasures, yet was ever solicitous to mix with the best company, and his polite manners always rendered him an acceptable guest; in this respect he was unlike Morland, who, it is well known, loved to select his companions from the lowest class of society. Although Nasmyth obtained considerable sums for his pictures, he was never sufficiently economical to save money; on the contrary his private affairs were in a very deranged state. He was never married, and during the last ten years of his life resided at Lambeth.

Towards the end of July, 1831, Mr. Nasmyth, accompanied by two of his intimate acquaintances, made an excursion to Norwood for the purpose of sketching. Much rain had fallen the day before, and the air was still chilly; the artist, however, commenced his drawing, and remained stationary for about two hours, when, the sketch being finished, he rejoined the friends whom he had left at an inn. He then complained of being excessively cold, but on taking something warm his usual spirits returned, and the party passed the rest of the day pleasantly. On the following morning, however, Nasmyth felt considerably indisposed, and it appeared evident he had taken a violent cold. Notwithstanding medical assistance, his indisposition daily increased; and on the 18th of August he breathed his last, in the 46th year of his age.

He died in extreme poverty, and a subscription to defray the expenses of the funeral was raised among his friends. Wilson, Stanfield, and Roberts subscribed, and followed the remains of their late talented friend to the grave in St. Mary's churchyard, Lambeth.

G. W. N.”

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