The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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William Graham, 1841-1910

Nationality: American
Date of Birth: 1841
Place of Birth: California
Date of Death: 1910
Place of Death: Buffalo


William Graham was an American landscape painter.


Graham studied in London, Paris, and New York. He lived for years in Venice and Rome, and later, with Charles Caryl Coleman in Capri. He was also friendly with Frederico Del Campo and Elihu Vedder. Venice was one of his favorite places to paint, with St Marks' Cathedral one of his great interests.

He met JW in Venice in 1879, and lent him his studio and canvases to paint Portrait of a Boy (YMSM 211). According to Bacher, Graham was 'an old forty-niner then resident in Venice', and 'a man whose works Whistler greatly appreciated'. When JW fell ill in midwinter Graham brought a doctor; he also invited him to life-drawing sessions and introduced him to a West Point Colonel who wanted a portrait of his son, Portrait of a Boy (YMSM 211).

Many years later, JW was to recommend Graham's work to the Fine Art Society: 'You ought to do a very good business with Mr. Grahams pictures as no one has such an artist understanding of the beauties of Venice and you will find a freshness and delicacy in his paintings that with your wise handling ought not to prevent their selling' (#03601).

He exhibited at the Boston Art Club, the National Academy and the Pennsylvania Academy.


Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, Paris, 1956-61; Bacher, Otto Henry, With Whistler in Venice, New York, 1908; MacDonald, Margaret F., Palaces in the Night Whistler in Venice, Aldershot, 2001; Grieve, Alastair, Whistler's Venice, New Haven and London, 2000.