The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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James Alfred Aitken, 1846-1897

Nationality: Scottish
Date of Birth: 1846
Place of Birth: Edinburgh
Date of Death: 1897.12.21
Place of Death: Glasgow


James Alfred Aitken was a landscape painter and watercolourist.


Aitken, who studied art in Dublin and in Glasgow under Horatio McCulloch, painted mainly the scenery of the Highlands and Scottish coasts using bright, expressive colouring. He later travelled widely in Europe and the United States. Like JW, he was attracted to paint the townscape of Venice.

He exhibited in London at the Grosvenor Gallery, Agnew and Sons Gallery and Dowdeswell Galleries. He also exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Royal Scottish Academy, Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water Colours and Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts. He was elected an associate of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1871, resigning in 1890. He was a founding member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water Colours in 1878.

Aitken was among those Glasgow painters who in 1891 appended their names to a list requesting that the Corporation of Glasgow buy Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137) (#12326). In 1892 JW was approached by Mary Newton Mann about contributing a sketch to an album of watercolours and black and white drawings in order to raise 400 guineas for Queen Margaret College in Glasgow. Aitken was among those who had already promised his assistance (#03987).


Johnson, J. and A. Greutzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; McEwan, Peter J. M., Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture, Woodbridge, 1994.