Alexander Runciman biography

Alexander Runciman

Painting, Visual Artist

1736 – 1785


Who was Alexander Runciman?

Alexander Runciman was a Scottish painter of historical and mythological subjects. He was the elder brother of John Runciman, also a painter.

He was born in Edinburgh. He studied at Foulis's Academy, Glasgow, and from 1750 to 1762 he was apprenticed to the landscape painter Robert Norie, later becoming a partner in the Norie family firm. He also worked as a stage painter for the Edinburgh Theatre.

In 1767, he went to Rome, where he spent five years. His brother John accompanied him, but died in Naples in the winter of 1768–69. During Runciman's stay in Italy he became acquainted with other artists such as Henry Fuseli and the sculptor Johan Tobias Sergel. Runciman's earliest efforts had been in landscape; he now turned to historical and imaginative subjects, exhibiting his Nausicaa at Play with her Maidens in 1767 at the Free Society of British Artists, Edinburgh.

On his return from Italy after a brief time in London, where in 1772 he exhibited in the Royal Academy, he settled in Edinburgh, and was appointed master of the Trustees' Academy. He was patronised by Sir James Clerk, whose hall at Penicuik House he decorated with a series of subjects from Ossian.


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Aug 15, 1736
  • Edinburgh College of Art
Lived in
  • Edinburgh
Oct 4, 1785

on July 23, 2013

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