Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow


William Graham

Nationality: English
Date of birth: 1817.08
Place of birth: Glasgow
Date of death: 1885.07.16
Place of death: Oakdene, Guildford
Category: collector


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


Graham, a devout Presbyterian, stood as a Liberal M.P. for Glasgow from 1865-1874.

He 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.

Whistler began a painting for Graham in the late 1860s, Annabel Lee y079, but the model fell ill and Whistler abandoned it in 1871 in favour of a portrait of his mother, Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother y101. Whistler asked Graham to accept Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge y140 in its place. When Graham's collection came up for auction at Christie's in April 1886, Whistler's Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge, which was sold to R. H. C. Harrison, was hissed by the crowd.


Garnett, Oliver, 'William Graham', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy.