The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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William Graham, 1816-1885

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1817.08
Place of Birth: Glasgow
Date of Death: 1885.07.16
Place of Death: Oakdene, Guildford


William Graham was a Scottish merchant, politician, patron and collector.


Graham, a devout Presbyterian, was a collector of early Italian and late fifteenth and early sixteenth century Venetian paintings, who frequently lent the items in his collection to exhibitions at the South Kensington Museum and at the Royal Academy. Graham was one of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's most important patrons from 1868 to 1873, and also of Edward Burne-Jones from 1865 until his death. Graham was appointed a trustee of the National Gallery in 1884. He stood as a Liberal M.P. for Glasgow from 1865-1874.

Whistler began a painting for Graham in the late 1860s, Annabel Lee (YMSM 79), but the model Maggie fell ill and Whistler abandoned it in August 1871 in favour of a portrait of his mother, Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101). Whistler asked him to accept Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge (YMSM 140) in its place. Graham's collection came up for auction at Christie's in April 1886 at which time Whistler's Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101), which was sold to R. H. C. Harrison, received a hiss from the crowd.


Garnett, Oliver, 'William Graham', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 21 March 2002).