(b. 1758, Edinburgh, d. 1840, Edinburgh)
Scottish painter, illustrator, landscape gardener and engineer, part of a family of artists, son of Michael Naesmyth, an architect. He was educated for a career in architecture, but at an early age he showed artistic talent, and in 1773 he was apprenticed to James Cummyng (c. 1730-92), a house decorator and antiquarian. Nasmyth painted panels for carriages at Alexander Crichton's coachworks and attended evening classes at the Trustees' Academy. When Allan Ramsay visited Crichton in 1774, he was impressed with Nasmyth's ability. Nasmyth subsequently accompanied Ramsay to his London studio where he continued his apprenticeship for four years.
Nasmyth established his own studio in his native Edinburgh in 1778 but after a lengthy visit to Italy, turned his attention increasingly to the landscape paintings which made his reputation. In the 1790s Nasmyth developed the landscape style for which he is best known, which invariably involved integrating topographical details of country houses and castles within a picturesque context. He opened his own art school in 1798 with a philosophy underlining the need to draw directly from nature rather than be studio-bound.
Nasmyth influenced many younger artists and his teachings provided the groundwork for the Scottish landscape tradition of the later 19th century. He is widely regarded as one of the most successful and influential Scottish landscape painters. Sir David Wilkie described Nasmyth after his death as the 'founder of the landscape painting school of Scotland'.