Edmonstone, born at Kelso in 1794, was bound apprentice to a watchmaker. He showed a taste for painting at an early age, came to Edinburgh, where his drawings attracted much attention, was patronised by Baron Hume, and settled in London about 1819. He first exhibited some portraits at the Royal Academy in 1818.
After attending Harlow"s studio he was admitted to the Royal Academy school, and subsequently travelled in Italy.
Between 1824 and 1829 he was painting chiefly portraits in London. In 1830 he exhibited ‘Italian Boys playing at Cards.’ He paid a second visit to Italy in 1831-1832, and painted ‘Venetian Carriers’ and the ‘Ceremony of Kissing the Chains of Saint Peter,’ which was exhibited at the British Institution in 1833.
Fifty-eight pictures by Edmonstone were in all exhibited at the Royal Academy, British Institution, and Suffolk Street exhibitions before 1834. A severe attack of fever at Rome in 1832, combined with overwork, permanently injured his health.
He returned to London, but found himself so enfeebled that he went to Kelso, where he died 21 September 1834.
His last pictures were ‘The White Mouse,’ exhibited in 1834 at Suffolk Street, and the ‘Children of Sir East. Cust,’ exhibited at the Royal Academy. He was a very successful painter of children, and his portraits were popular. But he was ambitious for fame as a painter of imaginative subjects and as a student of Correggio.