Alexander Nasmyth's pre-eminence as the seminal figure in the development of late 18th and early 19th century Scottish landscape painting has remained unchallenged since Wilkie's posthumous tribute to him as 'the founder of the landscape painting school of Scotland'.

Nasmyth began to explore large-scale panoramic views of Scottish country houses and castles in which the desire for topographical accuracy was successfully united with a distinctive picturesque sensibility. The View of Tantallon Castle with the Bass Rock shows the Romantic transformation of this type of motif. Nasmyth's treatment of his subject shows an obvious retrospective affiliation with the popular marine subjects of Joseph Vernet and, in this respect, is of exceptional interest in Nasmyth's oeuvre. It is also infused by his profound awareness of his own national heritage and almost certainly by his response to the outstanding re-interpreter of that heritage, Sir Walter Scott, whose Marmion recalled the historical associations of Tantallon.


W.A.G.Cunliffe; Admiral B.C.Barrington Brooke, Biel, 1958; Charles Spence.

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