Runciman, Alexander

, a Scotch painter, was born at Edinburgh in 1736, where his father, who was an architect, probably taught him some of the principles of his art. Mr. Fuseli says he served an apprenticeship to a coachpainter, and “acquired a practice of brush, a facility of penciling, and much mechanic knowledge of colour, be^ fore he had attained any correct notions of design.” The Scotch account, on the other hand, says he was placed as an apprentice to John and Robert Norries, the former of whom was a celebrated landscape painter (no-where upon record, however,) and under his instructions Runciman made rapid improvement in the art. From 1755 he painted landscapes on his own account, and in 1760 attempted historical works. About 1766 he accompanied or soon followed his younger brother John, who had excited much livelier expectations of his abilities as an artist, to Rome; where John, who was of a delicate and consumptive habit, soon fell a victim to the climate, and his obstinate exertions in art. Alexander continued his studies under the patronage and with the support of sir James Clerk, a Scottish baronet, and gave a specimen of his abilities before his departure, in a picture of considerable size, representing Ulysses surprising Nausica at play with her maids: it exhibited, with the defects and manner of Giulio Romano in style, design, and expression, a tone, a juice, and breadth of colour, resembling Tintoretto. At his return to Scotland in 1771, Runciman was employed by his patron to decorate the hall at Pennecuik, with a series of subjects from Ossian; in the course of some years he was made master of a public institution for promoting design, and died Oct. 21, 1785. Jacob More, the landscape-painter, who died at Rome, was his pupil; and John Brown, celebrated for design, his friend. One of his capital pictures is the Ascension, an altar-piece in the episcopal chapel, Edinburgh; another a Lear, which, with his Andromeda and “Agrippina landing with the ashes of Germanicus,” are highly praised by his countrymen. Edwards mentions having seen two etchings by this artist, the one “Sigismunda weeping over the heart of Tancred;” the other | riew of Edinburgh, which is executed with great spirit and taste. 1


Stack’s Biog, Scot, Pilkinston by Fuseli.