William Aikman

1682 - 1731

Painter. Born in Aberdeenshire, the son of an advocate, Aikman studied law at the University of Edinburgh with the intention of following his father. Instead, he decided to take up a career as an artist and, by 1703, was painting portraits professionally in Edinburgh. He sold his family estate near Arbroath to enable him to travel unfettered to Europe to complete his artistic training. He spent three years in Rome (Italy), before visiting Constantinople and Smyrna (Turkey) and then spent a further period in Rome. He returned to Scotland in 1712, where he made the acquaintance of the poet Allan Ramsay (1686 - 1758) and found an enthusiastic patron in John Campbell, the 2nd Duke of Argyll (1680 - 1743), who persuaded Aikman to move to London. There he became well connected and painted the portraits of royalty and aristocracy.

He died in London but, at his request, lies buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard (Edinburgh).

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