Robert Ingersoll Aitken
Born in San Francisco in 1878, Robert I. Aitken was an artistic prodigy whose remarkable talent evinced itself while he was a student at Lick High School. Following his graduation, he studied for a year with Arthur Mathews and Dougleas Tilden at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art, and at the age of 18 he set up his own studio in San Francisco. He studied briefly in Paris, but returned to San Francisco where, despite his youth and relative lack of experience or training, he was soon entrusted with some of the most prestigious commissions in the city.
In 1900 he modeled the bronze doors for the Crocket mausoleum and carved the heroic figures for the spandrels of the Claus Spreckels Musci Pavilion erected on the concourse in Golden Gate Park. The following year at the age of 23, he was appointed professor of sculpture at the Mark Hopkins Institute and received the commission for the momument to Admiral Dewey at San Francisco's Union Square. In 1904, his monument to President McKinley was unveiled at Golden Gate Park.
He returned to Paris for 3 years, and in 1907 he opened a studio in New York City and began teaching at the Art Students' League. He exhibited 3 works at the Armory Show in 1913 and participated in international expositions and exhibitions around the world.
Aitken was a prolific artist whose work ranged from design of coins and commemorative medals to the pediment sculptures for the U.S. Supreme Court Building. He was an academician of the National Academy of Design, a member and officer of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and president of the National Sculpture Society. He won numerous award.