Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of Robert Graham (later Cunninghame-Graham) of Gartmore (c.1735-97) 

John Bogle 1769-1804

Portrait miniature of Robert Graham (later Cunninghame-Graham) of Gartmore (c.1735-97), John Bogle
Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 55mm (2 3/16 inches) high
By family descent until 2014.
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This portrait depicts Robert Graham, the politician, poet and Jamaican land owner and was painted by John Bogle, a fellow Scotsman and husband of his second cousin.

Robert Graham was born at Gartmore House, Perthshire and was the second son of Nicol Graham (1694/5-1775), laird of Gartmore and Lady Margaret Cunninghame (1703/4-1789), daughter of William, 12th Earl of Glencairn.

In 1752 Graham went to Jamaica, where, at the age of just eighteen, he was employed as receiver-general of the taxes. In 1764 Graham married Anne Taylor (d.1780), elder daughter of Patrick Taylor and sister of Sir John Taylor, 1st Bart of Lysson Hall, Jamaica (1745-1786), and they had five children. Following his return to Britain in 1770, Graham succeeded to the estates of Ardoch, in Dunbartonshire, on the death of William Bontine, 14th laird of Ardoch (d.1770). In 1775, following the death of his father and lack of male issue from his deceased elder brother, Graham also inherited Gartmore. In 1780 Anne died and Graham, later in c.1786, married Elizabeth Buchanan Hamilton, daughter of Thomas Buchanan Hamilton of Spital, Abderdeen, although they separated three years later in 1789.

In the latter part of his life Graham involved himself in politics, as well as holding a position of lord rector of Glasgow University between 1785-7. One of Graham’s main aims was reform, and he was president for the convention of the reform of Scottish burghs. He also attempted, unsuccessfully, to introduce a bill of rights to accomplish this aim. Previously a Whig supporter, by 1788 Graham was ‘attached to opposition and Sir Thomas Dundas’ , and, when the latter attained a peerage in 1794, Graham succeeded him as the representative of Stirlingshire in Parliament. It appears however that less than a year later he had decided not to stand again at the next general election, and, by the end of the year, he was defaulting from his duties.

In 1796, following the death of the Rev. John Cunninghame, 14th Earl of Glencairn, Graham inherited the Finlaystone estate and his family name became Cunninghame-Graham.

Graham was also a celebrated writer, his best known work being the poem ‘If doughty deeds my lady please’, which was well received in both contemporary circles as well as posthumously - Sir Arthur Sullivan for example later set it to music.

The Scottish-born artist John Bogle is often admired for his evocation of personality in his astonishingly detailed portrait miniatures. He might have become a member of the aristocracy but never made any claim to his title, the ‘Earl of Menteith’. When he moved from Edinburgh to London in 1770, he met some of the most interesting characters in Georgian England, even accompanying Fanny Burney to witness the trial of Warren Hastings.

It has been suggested by a descendant that the present likeness was taken when Graham was in London saying farewell to his brother-in-law Sir John Taylor and his wife Elizabeth, who left to Jamaica in 1792, and was even, perhaps, given to the couple as a memento.
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