AIKMAN, WILLIAM (1682-1731), British portrait-painter, was born at Cairney, Forfarshire. He was intended by his father for the bar, but followed his natural bent by becoming a pupil under Sir John Medina, the leading painter of the day in Scotland. In 1707 he went to Italy, resided in Rome for three years, afterwards travelled to Constantinople and Smyrna, and in 1712 returned home. In Edinburgh, where he practised as a portrait-painter for some years, he enjoyed the patronage of the duke of Argyll; and on his removal to London in 1723 he soon obtained many important commissions. Perhaps his most successful work was the portrait of the poet Gay. He also painted portraits of himself, Fletcher of Saltoun, William Carstares and Thomson the poet. The likenesses were generally truthful and the style was modelled very closely upon that of Sir Godfrey Kneller. Aikman held a good position in literary society and counted among his personal friends Swift, Pope, Thomson, Allan Ramsay, Somervile and Mallet.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)