About this artwork

In this self-portrait, the young artist has shown himself much as he would one of his sitters. Aikman was the son and heir of an Angus laird but he sold his estates to fund his training as a painter. This confident image probably belongs to the period shortly after his return to Edinburgh after several years of study in London and Italy. No other artist in Scotland was able to match his European sophistication of style and he rapidly became the country's leading portrait painter.

  • title: William Aikman, 1682 - 1731. Artist (Self-portrait)
  • accession number: PG 309
  • artist: William AikmanScottish (1682 - 1731)
  • depicted: William Aikman
  • gallery: On Loan
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Self-portrait
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1711
  • measurements: 75.90 x 63.00 cm (framed: 89.00 x 76.00 x 7.50 cm)
  • credit line: Bequeathed by W.F. Watson 1886
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

William Aikman

William Aikman

The son and heir of an Angus laird, Aikman sold his estates to finance his training as a painter. He studied with Sir John de Medina in Edinburgh before travelling to London in 1704. In 1707 he left for Italy, where he may have worked with Carlo Maratta. He also visited Turkey. Aikman returned to Edinburgh in 1711 after Medina's death and became the leading portrait painter in Scotland. By 1723, in search of new commissions and wider acclaim, Aikman moved to London. The Scottish nobility resident in London after the Act of Union of 1707 formed a large part of his clientele but he was also part of Lord Burlington's circle.