The drawing strategies of James Nasmyth (1808-1890): Technological and artistic visual traditions in the early nineteenth century

Robertson, Frances (2003) The drawing strategies of James Nasmyth (1808-1890): Technological and artistic visual traditions in the early nineteenth century. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This dissertation explores the range of drawing practices open to James Nasmyth (1808-1890), the mechanical engineer. He has been used as the focus for the study of different conventions of drawing and mark-making in mid-19th-century Britain at a time when mechanization began to influence the production of images at many levels. The context of his education and training in Edinburgh in the 1820s is described first; this covers not only the influence of his father, Alexander Nasmyth (1758-1840), the landscape painter, but also the curriculum and student bodies of the Trustees' Academy and the Edinburgh School of Arts. Nasmyth's working life coincided with the development and consolidation of technical and engineering drawing, and this dissertation examines the theoretical and material bases of this style as it appeared in technical illustrations; in teaching manuals; and in working and presentation drawings, using material from the Nasmyth & Gaskell donation at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. In tandem with his working drawings, Nasmyth throughout his life continued the practice of observational sketching as a record of the people, places, and objects that interested him, and many of these drawings have been preserved in sketchbooks or in his Autobiography, In addition, James Nasmyth produced a book on the nature of the Moon landscape. The Moon, considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite in 1874 in collaboration with James Carpenter (1840-1899). This was illustrated with photographic images which exhibited several innovative features both in Nasmyth's idiosyncratic mixed-medium method of working, and in their method of production as print illustrations; this section drew on material from the John Murray Archive. This whole range of drawing practices was considered in order to begin to address two questions; 1) were different drawing conventions kept rigidly apart at this period, and 2) did the development of mechanically reproduced images lead to a new synthesis between different mark-making conventions?

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Art history
Date of Award: 2003
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2003-71416
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 May 2019 10:49
Last Modified: 10 May 2019 10:49
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/71416

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