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ACCOUNT OF MR. WILLIAM AIKMAN,
PAIN T E R.
AMONG eminent Scottish artists who sooner at liberty to choose for himseli
have been better known abroad than he decidedly determined to aban. than in their own country, must be don the study of the law, and to at: clased the object of the present memoir. cach himself to that of painting alone. Wealih may be faid to be the parent of Poetry, painting, and music havc, the fine arts; and a poor country must with justice, been called litter arts. in gencral be abandoned by luch of her The tiner feelings of the human mind chindren as have a desire for attaining are the ovject on which they all are inexcelicnce in that line; for in such a tended to operate ; and it lillom bapcountry models of perfection are rare, pens that any person excels muciin one and feiv opportunities occur for an artist of thote ares who is no: likewise an adeither to correct his judgment or in- mirer of the others. Mr. Aikman was prove his taste. There, however, it as fond of poetry; and was particularly zecessarily happens that, as adventitious delighted with tho!e unforced strains circunstances rarely call the attention which, procceding from the heart, are of youth to that line of business, it is calculated to touch the congenial fecl. the powerfui incitements of genius alone ings of sympathetic minds, and make that prompts any one to protecute the them vibraic with that delicate uniton Kudy of the fine arts, fu chat perhaps which those alone who have felt it can fewer unsuccessful attempts may be ex. appreciate. It was this propensity pected there to be made, than in coun which at:ached Mr. Aikman to warmly iries which are more favourably cir to Allan Ramsay, the Doric bard of cumsanced.
Scotland, whorc artless straios have been There are few instances of young admired wherever the language in wv liich persons in Scotland setting out in life he wrote was known. Though younger wich an intention of prosecuring the fine
than the bard, Mr. Aikman, while at arts: it is scarcely ever within the view College, fornied an intimate acquaintof the parents. The education of chil. ance with Rainfuy, which confiituted a dren of persons in cafy circumstances principal part of his happiness at chat ia Scotland is invariably dire&ted to. iime, and of which he always bore the wards the attainment of literary know. tenderest recolle&tion. It was the same ledge, eittier cu fit them for the profef. delicate bias of inind which at a future hon of the law, or to enable them to act period of his life attached him so warmly a becoming part in the character of a to Thomson, who unknown, and un. gentleman. 'Hence it happens that protected by others that time, Scottish artists abroad, are in general as
stood in need of, and obtained the much diftinguithed for elegant mental warmest patronage of Aikman; who acquirements as professional ikill; which perhaps confidered it as one of the most tends to connect them more intimately fortunatc occurrences in his life that with acquaintances formed abroad than he had it in his power to introduce this is usual among those of other nations, young poet of nature to Sir Robere and which too often prevents thein from Walpole, who wilhed to be reckoned returning to their native country, or the patroniser of genius, Arbuthnot, continuing in it after they have attainc, Swift, Pope, Gay, and the other beaux eminenc: in their art.
espriis of that brilliant period. Thom. Such was the case with Mr. Aikman. fon could never forget this kindness; His father, a man of eminence at the and when he l:ad the misfortune, wo Scottish bar *, intended that his fon foon, to lose this warm friend and kind hould follow the same profession with protector, he bewailed the loss in strains kimself, and gave him an education suit. which, for juítvets of thought, and you able to these views; but the strong pre.
nuine path:os of expression, will perhaps dilection of the son to the fine arts fruie be allowed to equal any thing he hail trated these views; and he was no erer wrote, though lume may think *He was Sheriff of Forfasthire, and in the nomination of a Lord of Session at the time
of his death,
they fall short of other passages, in that there, particularly with Sir Godfrey Howving melody of found which fo fuw Kneller, whose ftudies and dispositions others have been able to imitatc *. of inind were very congenial to his
Mr. Aik man having profecuted his own. ftudies for some time in Britain, found In this fociety he soon became known that to complete then it would be ne to and patronized by people of the first cellary :o go into Italy, to form his taste rank, and was in habits of intimacy on the tinc models of antiquity, which with many of them ; particularly the there alone can be found in abundance. Earl of Burlington, so well known for And as he perceived that the profetlion his tafte in the fine arts, especially arhe was to follow, could not permiç him chitecture. For him he painted, among to manage properly his paternal estate, others, a large pi&ture of the Royal Fa. fituated in a remote place near Arbroath mily of England, for the end of a parti. in the county of Forfar in Scotland, he cular room in his house: in the middle at this tine thought proper to fell it, compartment are all the younger and fetele all family claims upon him, branches of the Family on a very large that he might thus be at full libcrty to canvas, and on one hand above the door act as circumstances might require. In a half length of her Majesty Queen Cathe year 1707 he went to Italy, and roline ; the picture of the King was in. having resided chictly at Rome for three tended to fill the niche oppofite to it, years, and taken instructions from, but Mr. Aikman's death happening beansi formed an acquaintance with the fore it was begun, the place for it is principal artists of that period, he chofe left blank. This picture is now in the to gratty his curiosity by travelling into pofletion of the Duke of Devonshire, Turkey. He wint firit to Conftan. whole father married Lady Mary Boyle, tinople, and from thence to Smyrna. daughter and only child to the Earl of There he became acquainted with all Burlington. the British Geotlcmcn of the Factory; This was perhaps the laft picture and finding them a very agrecable ict finithed by Mr. Aikman, and is in huis of people, he made a longer stay than beft itile, which like that of Raphaci he had intended. They nad even nigh went on continually improving to the engaged him to forsake the pencil and last. His country had the misfortune to join thein in the Turkos trade: but of losing him too, like Raphael, at a that scheme not taking placc, he went very cariv age. once more to Rome, and purued his for Towards the clofe of his life he painted mer studies there, till the year 1912, many other pictures of people of the when he returned to his native country; first rank and fathion in England. At there he followed his profution of Blickling in Norfolk, the feat of Hobart painting for fome time, applawed by Earl of Buckinghamshire, in a gallery inc difcerning few; though the public, lere, are a great many full length pic. too poor at ibat period to be able to tures by Mr. Aikman, of Noblemen, purcharc valuable pictures, were in. Gentlemen, and Ladies, relations and able to give adequate encouragement to
friends of the Earl. Theic, with the his fuperior murit
. John Duke of Ar. Royal Family above named, were his gyll, who cqually admired the artist and lat works ; and but a few of the numelicemed the in31, regretting that such ber he painted in London. talcats Thould be lott, at length pre Mr. Aikman was the particular friend vuiled on Mr. Aiman to more with of Mr. William Somerville, the auall his family to London, in the rear thor of The Chace, Hobbinol, and fee 1723, thinking this the only theatre in veral other perforinances of merit, from Brituin where his talents could be pro whom he received an elegant tribute of perly dilplased. There, under the the Mule, on liis painting a full length avljices the Duke of Argyll, who portrait of him in the decline of life, honouresi ali. Aikman with particular carrying him back, by the affitiance of martis of his friendship, he formed anev another portrait, to his vouthful days. habits of intimacy with the first artists This pocin was never published in any
These lines are inserted complete at the end of this account. The laft eight lines only, which juubticis are the best, are all that have been usually inferted in Thomson's works; but the whole deserves to be preserved, uot only on ac:ouni of the poetry, bui as an original portrait of a worthy man who has not been fufficiently known.
ednion of that Gentleman's works, it In his file of painting Mr. Aikman is therefore alio inserted at the end of seems to have aimed at imitating nature this account.
in her pleasing fimplicity : his lights are The lubject of this Memoir was the soft, his thades mellow, and his colouronly son of William Aikman, of Cacr. ing mild and harmonious. His touches ney, Esq. Advocate, by Margaret fifter have neither the force nor harshness of of Sir John Clerk, of Pennycuick, Bart. Rubens; nor does he feem, like ReyHe was born on the 24th October 1682. tolds, ever to have aimed at adorring He married Marion Lawson, daughter his portraits with the elegance of advento Mr. Lawson, of Cairnmuir in titious graces. His mind, tranquil and Tweedale, by whom he had one son serene, delighted rather to wander, named John, who died at his house in with Thomson, in the enchanting fields Leicester-ia !ds, London, on the 14th of Tempe, than to burst, with Michael January 1731. Mr. Aikman himself Angelo, into the ruder scenes of the haring died soon after, both father and terrible and the sublime. His composon were buried in the same grave at the fitions are distinguished by a placid transame time *.
quillity and cafe rather than a striking The following Epitaph, written on brilliancy of effect, and his portraits that mournful occasion by Mr. Mallet, may be more readily mistaken for those who was another of Mr. Aikman's in- of Kneller than any other eminent artimate friends, was engraven on their tift; not only becaulc of the general retomb in the Grcy Friars church.yard, semblance in the dreses, which were, Edinburgh, but is now so much oblitc. those of the times, they being contem. rated as not to be legible. It is printed poraries, but also for the manner of in that author's works.
working, and the fimilarity and bland
mellowness of their tints. DEAR to the good, and wise, disprais d. There are several portraits painted by by none,
Mr. Aikman in Scotland in the pol. Here Aeep, in peace, the Father and the Son ; seffion of the Duke of Argyll, the Duke By Virtuc, as by Nature, close ally'd, of Hamilton, and others. The Painter's genius, but without the pride ; There is also a portrait of Mr. Aik. Worth unambitious, wit afraid to Mbine, man in the gallery of the Grand Duke Honour's clear light, and friendship's warmth of Tuscany, painted by himself, and divine :
another of the same in the possession of The Son fair rising, knew too short a date ; his daughter, Mrs. Forbes, in EdinBut oh ! how more severe the Parent's fate i burgh, whose only rou now represents He saw him torn untimely from his fide, the family of Aikman. Feit all a father's anguith, wept, and dy'd.
EPISTLE TO MR. AIKMAN THE Alan Ramsay, who had the misfor.
PAINTER, tune to survive his friend, paid also a poetical tribute to his memory, ł:
BY WILLIAM SOMERVILLE, ESQ. Mr. Aikman left behind him two [Nos published in any Collection of his dangliters-Margaret, married to Hugh
Works.] Forbes, Esq. Advocate, lately one of the principal Clerks of Scllion in Scot SUCH (AIKMAN) once I was ; but ah, Jand, and brother to the gallant General
how chang'd! forbes who took Fort Du Quelne from Since those blest days, when o'er the loille I the French in the war 1758; and Hen.
rang'd ; rietta, married to William Carruthers, When thro' the mazes of the entangled wood, Esq. of Dormont in Galloway.
The busy puzzling spaniel I pursu'd ; . John Aikman died in Leicester fields, London, on the 14th of January O. S. 1731, and as his father proposed going to Scotland that year, and intending to send down his son's remains, they were, in the mean time, deposited in a vault belonging to a friend in St. Martin's church.
Mr. Aikman dying the 7th of June thereafter, they were brought from thence and sent down along with his father's, and were interred in the same grave on the same day. Mr. Aikman died in the 49th year of his age, and his son in the 17th of his.
† An Eclogae to the memory of Mr. William Aikman, our celebrated painter, published in his works. See also in Boyle's poems a compliment to Mr. Aikman. VOL. XXV.