Alexander Handyside Ritchie

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Alexander Handyside Ritchie (16 April 1804 – 24 April 1870) was a Scottish sculptor born in Musselburgh in 1804, the son of James Ritchie, a local brickmaker and ornamental plasterer, and his wife Euphemia. The father in turn was the son of a fisherman and amateur sculptor.


John Henning (seated) and Alexander Handyside Ritchie (standing) from the National Portrait Gallery by David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson

Ritchie was born in Musselburgh in 1804. After studying architecture he turned to sculpture. In 1823 he studied under Samuel Joseph at the Edinburgh School of Arts. He briefly also studied anatomy at Dr. John Barclay's Anatomy School in 1822. He studied in Rome under Bertel Thorvaldsen (1826-1830), under the sponsorship of Walter, 5th Duke of Buccleuch. A favourite of Thorvaldsen he was awarded a gold medal under his tutorship. In 1830 he returned to Musselburgh where he held a studio for 12 years, then opened a sculpture studio at 92 Princes Street, Edinburgh in 1842. He had a yard at 4 East Broughton Place where most of the work was done.[1] Ritchie trained other sculptors such as John Rhind here.

His brother John Ritchie assisted him on some works, working from the same studio. He also worked with and trained John Rhind, Alexander Munro and George Anderson Lawson.

He was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1846. In 1854, he moved his studio to Mound Place in the centre of Edinburgh, living nearby at 92 Princes Street.[2] He retired in 1861, but maintained a studio at Coates Place in Edinburgh, where he held a final exhibition in 1862. He returned to his family home at Herkes Loan, Musselburgh and spent his final years in the care of his sister Euphemia. He had no wish for riches and they lived frugally.

He died on 24 April 1870, leaving £6 10s 6d in his will. He is buried in the churchyard of St Michael in Inveresk just outside Musselburgh. He lies to the east side of the south entrance path, facing away from the path. He had no family and the grave is very humble. It is marked as being erected by his "brother sculptors WB and JR" presumed to be William Brodie and John Rhind.

It is presumed he was descended from the local farming family, the Handasydes, of whom Archibald Handasyde was a stonemason responsible for the carving of a sundial on the session house of St. Michaels in 1785.[3]

List of Works[edit]


  1. ^ Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1845
  2. ^ Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1850
  3. ^ Buildings of Scotland: Lothian by Colin McWilliam

Further reading[edit]

  • Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh by Gifford McWilliam and Walker
  • Dictionary of British Sculptors, 1660–1851, by Rupert Gunnis

External links[edit]

30 artworks by or after Alexander Handyside Ritchie at the Art UK site