Cosmo Alexander

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Alexander's portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie, painted in Rome and now in the collection of the Stirling Smith Museum and Art Gallery
Alexander's portrait of George Keith, 5th Earl Marischal, painted in 1742 and now in the collection of the University of Aberdeen

Cosmo Alexander (1724–1772) was a Scottish portrait painter. A supporter of James Edward Stuart's claim to the English and Scottish thrones, Alexander spent much of his life overseas following the defeat of the Jacobite cause in 1745.


Alexander was the son of John Alexander, a painter and engraver from Aberdeen, and was named Cosmo after Cosmo Gordon, son of the Jacobite Duke of Gordon. In 1745 he took part in the Jacobite Rising, which concluded with the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden in January 1746.

Like many other prominent Jacobites he fled to Europe, arriving in Rome in 1747. He was commissioned to paint Bonnie Prince Charlie, and continued to paint portraits of the exiled Jacobites as he traveled through Italy and then France over the following years. He settled in London in 1754, where the architect James Gibbs, his friend and fellow Scots Catholic, had left him a house. Over the following decade he worked in London, Scotland and the Netherlands, joining the Incorporated Society of Artists in 1765.

In 1766 Alexander moved to Philadelphia, and painted portraits of the Scottish communities of the American colonies. In Newport, Rhode Island, he took on an assistant, Gilbert Stuart, who later painted the "Athenaeum" portrait of George Washington. Alexander and Stuart traveled in the southern states, before returning to Scotland in 1771, where Alexander died the following year.


External links[edit]

Media related to Cosmo Alexander at Wikimedia Commons