Find, Learn, Price Art
Enjoy the comprehensive art database we've compiled since 1987
Membership Details
Images, sales charts, bios, signatures, 30 artist Alerts and more ...
Art auction records:  Millions of references for pricing research
Or, register for Free Alerts
To track 10 artists.

Already a member?  Sign in here

Robert Ingersoll Aitken

 (1878 - 1949)
Robert Ingersoll Aitken was active/lived in California, New York / France.  Robert Aitken is known for classical figure and portrait sculpture.

Robert Ingersoll Aitken

Biography from the Archives of askART

Robert Ingersoll Aitken
1878 - 1949
place of birth: United States of America , San Francisco
place of death: United States of America , New York
Remarks: ?ANA 1909; NA 1914

Robert Aitken attended San Francisco's Mark Hopkins Institute of Art where he studied sculpture with Douglas Tilden and drawing with Arthur Mathews. At the age of eighteen, he opened his own studio in the city. He went to Paris in 1895, but deciding that the influence of the French was not beneficial for American artists, returned to the United States having stayed only three months.

Aitken's first major commissions included a bronze monument to Bret Harte which the young sculptor executed for San Francisco's Bohemian Club, an organization that was to give him encouragement and patronage for the rest of his life. His first public exhibition was held at the Club's headquarters in 1896.

In 1901, he won the competition for a memorial to Admiral Dewey to be placed in San Francisco's Union Square; his conception of Victory for the monument received much critical acclaim. Between 1901 and 1904, Aitken was head of the Department of Sculpture at the Hopkins Institute.

In 1905, fifty-three of his sculptural models were featured in an exhibition at the Bohemian Club. Despite his earlier derision of French artists, he returned to Paris in 1904, this time he remained for three years, even having a work accepted in the Salon of 1907. He came back to the United States in the latter year, and settled in New York where he opened a studio and began teaching at the Art Students League.

His artistic career was interrupted by World War I, when he served in Europe, achieving the rank of Captain in the infantry.

Aitken first exhibited at the Academy in 1907, received the Barnett prize in the winter exhibition of the following year, and continued to be a consistent exhibitor in NAD exhibitions. Particular critical attention was given his Michelangelo, which he showed at the Academy in 1912. He designed the Academy's Elizabeth N. Watrous Gold Medal, an award he won himself in the Winter Exhibition of 1921, for a model of his monument to George Rogers Clark. He was first elected to the Academy's Council for a three-year term beginning in 1915, although active participation was interrupted by his military service. He was returned to the Council for three-year terms in 1921, and in 1926; at the conclusion of the latter term, he was elected a vice-president of the Academy, a position to which he was annually relected through 1933.

Aitken also taught in the Academy School for the three seasons from 1919 into 1922, and after a year's absence returned to the faculty in 1923, remaining the Academy's instructor in sculpture for a decade. He was also chair of the Council's School Committee for some years. Aitken was president of the National Sculpture Society, 1920-22, and vice-president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, 1921-24.

David B. Dearinger

Biography from the Archives of askART
Born in San Francisco, California, Robert Aitken became a noted sculptor who spent most of his career teaching at the National Academy of Design in New York City. He has done numerous portraits, full size and bust, of well known figures, and his work is in many collections and museums including the Smithsonian Institution and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

For his early study, he was a painting pupil of Arthur Mathews and Douglas Tilden at the Mark Hopkins Institute and by the time he was age 18, he had his own studio. In 1897, he studied briefly in Paris, where influences turned him to sculpture.

He taught at the Hopkins Institute until 1904 and was awarded some of the premier sculpture commissions including monuments to the Navy and to President McKinley in Golden Gate Park. In 1904, he returned to Paris for three more years and then settled in New York City where he was a long-time teacher at the National Academy of Design.

Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Share an image of the Artist

  Full access to biographies is
  free each Friday

About  Robert Ingersoll Aitken

Born:  1878 - San Francisco, California
Died:   1949 - New York City
Known for:  classical figure and portrait sculpture