Alexander, John

1686 – 1767

The maternal grandson of the Scottish portrait painter George Jamesone (1589/90-1644) and father of the Scottish portraitist Cosmo John Alexander (1724-1772). By 1710 he had already visited Paris and was in London working as a portrait copyist. From 1711-20 he lived and worked in Italy painting portraits of visiting British notables and copying the Old Masters whilst studying with Guiseppe Bartolomeo Chiari. In 1728 he engraved George Jamesone's Self-Portrait with Wife and Son, an [?later] impression of which is in the RSA's volume of loose prints (portraits) RSA 2016.222.1-143 [2016.222.101]. Latterly he enjoyed the patronage of gentry in the North East of Scotland including the creation of 'the most ambitious baroque ceiling in Scotland' after a basic design by Chiari of 'The Rape of Prosperine,' for the Duke of Gordon at Gordon Castle. At the time of his death he was working on a painting of 'The Escape of Mary Queen of Scots from Loch Leven' in which the landscape was executed from nature; possibly the first Scottish landscape to have been painted en plein air. He was one of the original signatories to the Deed of Corporation of the Edinburgh School of St Luke, 1729, a precursor of the Royal Scottish Academy.

An image from the RSA collection.