William Aikman

John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll and Greenwich, 1680 - 1743. Soldier and statesman (About 1720)

About this artwork

In 1703, John Campbell succeeded his father as Duke of Argyll and Chief of Clan Campbell. A strong supporter of the Union of Parliaments, he was an important political figure as well as an accomplished soldier. In 1710 he was made a Knight of the Garter, the blue ribbon of which he wears in this portrait. During the 1715 rebellion, Campbell commanded the government army at Sheriffmuir and defeated the Jacobites led by the Earl of Mar. He was rewarded for his victory with the Dukedom of Greenwich, was promoted to Field Marshal in 1736 and eventually became Commander in Chief of the British Army. William Aikman painted at least fourteen paintings of Campbell, who was a firm supporter of the artist and encouraged him to settle in London where his career flourished.

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.