the establishment by the Trustees of the Forfeited Estate Funds of "The Academy of Fine Art." From the designing of patterns, the institution advanced to the improvement of the fine arts generally. Young men who had given proofs of their natural taste for drawing were invited to enter the school and participate in its benefits.

At the time that my father was apprenticed to the coach painter, the Trustees' Academy was managed by Alexander Runciman. He had originally been a house painter, from which business he proceeded to landscape painting. "Other artists," said one who knew him, "talked meat and drink; but Runciman talked landscape." He went to Rome and studied art there. He returned to Edinburgh, and devoted himself to historical painting. He was also promoted to the office of master of the Trustees' Academy. When my father called upon him with his drawings from nature, Runciman found them so satisfactory that he was at once admitted as a student. After his admission he began to study with intense eagerness. The young men who had been occupied at their business during the day could only attend in the evening. And thus the evenings were fixed for studying drawing and design. The Trustees' Academy made its mark upon the art of Scotland: it turned out many artists of great note -- such as Raeburn, Wilkie, my father, and many more.

At the time when my father entered as a student, the stock of casts from the antique, and the number of drawings from the old masters, were very small; so much so, indeed, that Runciman was under the necessity of setting the students to copy them again and again. This became rather irksome to the more ardent pupils. My father had completed his sixth copy of a fine chalk drawing of "The Laocoon." It was then set for him to copy again. He begged Mr. Runciman for another subject. The quick-tempered man at once said,"l'll give you another subject." And turning the group of the Laocoon upside down, he added, "Now, then, copy that!" The patient youth set to work, and in a few evenings completed a perfect copy. It was a most severe test; but Runciman was so proud of the skill of his pupil that he had the drawing mounted and framed, with a note of the circumstances under which it had been produced. It continued to hang there for many years, and the story of its achievement became traditional in the school.

During all this time my father remained in the employment of Crighton the carriage builder. He improved in his painting day by day. But at length an important change took place in his career. Allan Ramsay, son of the author of The Gentle Shepherd, and then court painter to George III., called upon his old friend Crighton one day, to look over his works. There he found young Nasmyth painting a coat of arms on the panel of a carriage. He was so much surprised with the lad's artistic workmanship -- for he was then only sixteen -- that he formed a strong desire to take him into his service. After much persuasion, backed by the offer of a considerable sum of money, the coachbuilder was at length induced to transfer my father's indentures to Allan Ramsay.

It was, of course, a great delight to my father to be removed to London under such favourable auspices. Ramsay had a large connection as a portrait painter. His object in employing my father was that he should assist him in the execution of the subordinate parts, or dress portions, of portraits of courtiers, or of diplomatic personages. No more favourable opportunity for advancement could have presented itself. But all this was entirely due to my father's perseverance and advancing skill as an artist -- the results of his steady application and labour.

Ramsay possessed a very fine collection of drawings by the old masters, all of which were free for my father to study. Ramsay was exceedingly kind to his young pupil. He was present at all the discussions in the studio, even when the sitters were present. Fellow-artists visited Ramsay from time to time. Among them was his intimate friend Philip Reinagle -- an agreeable companion, and an excellent artist. Reinagle was one day so much struck with my father's earnestness in filling up some work, that he then and there got up a canvas and made a capital sketch-portrait of him in oil. It only came into my father's possession some years after Ramsay's death, and is now in my possession.

Alexander Nasmyth. After Reinagle's Portrait

  By PanEris using Melati.

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