Robert Ingersoll AITKEN (1878-1949)


Robert Aitken, Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum J0001187

Aitken believes that the essence of sculpture is correctness, accomplished with a direct tool which creates a feeling of spontaneous decision, and sets forth a dramatic quality of unsual excellence. This is a distinctive feature of his art. He approaches his subject with arduous study and honesty and with a passion which carries it to a great height. They are always forceful human works of a forceful genius.” Arts and Decoration, January 1920
Aitken is an outstanding American sculptor, an artist and craftsman who has developed in his own way unaided and whose work and success is the product of earnest application. Although he ascribes much to his own independent study, he has apparently been influenced by Barnard and has begun lately to indulge in primitive simplification in contrast to his early studies under the able guidance of his two San Francisco teachers  Arthur F. Matthews in drawing and Douglas Tilden in sculpture.”

Read Robert I. Aitken‘s biography in California Art Project, volume 6. CARA_V06_AITKEN

At a glance

Birth :  May 8, 1878, in San Francisco
Death : January 3, 1949, in  New York (United States)
Married to : Laura Louise Ligny
Skills : Sculptor, teacher at the Mark Hopkins Institute and head of the sculpture department from 1901 to 1904
Influence : French sculpture


Art education, teachers : Mark Hopkins Institute of Art with Arthur F. Mathews and Douglas Tilden
Partners : Piccirilli Brothers
Relations : George Bellows, Charles John Dickman, Henry Arthur Jones, Willard L. Metcalf, Charles Rollo Peters, Arthur F. Mathews, Newton J. Thorp, Douglas Tilden, Augustus Thomas, David Warfield
Patrons : Bohemian Club, Ralph H. Beaton, State of Maine

Resources in the Bancroft Library


Douglas Tilden Papers, 1860-1970. Catalog Record
George and Phoebe Apperson Hearst Papers, 1849-1926. Autographs of Robert I. Aitken. Online

Pictorial Archives

Data visualization : mapping of Robert Aitken biography

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