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James Graham of Barrock Park and Rickerby, painting by Johann Zoffany

  • James Graham, Zoffany
  • James Graham, Zoffany

James Graham (1747-1820) was from a landed Kirklinton family and became a wealthy merchant through service in the East India Company. He was painted in 1786 by the noted portrait painter of Georgian England - Johan Zoffany (1733-1820). Zoffany’s oil painting shows Graham in a relaxed pose. The sitter also wears luxury clothes and hookah pipe to show his status as a wealthy nabob of India.

Further info

In 1780 James Graham went to India to seek his fortune and took a job with the East India Company. Graham held various senior positions and became wealthy. He returned to Britain in 1790 and built Barrock Lodge near Carlisle in 1791. A few years later he returned to India to work for the Company again and finally returned to Britain in 1804 to found the Carlisle New Bank. In 1807 he inherited Rickerby estate which he enlarged as a result of his Indian fortune. Zoffany painted this portrait of Graham in Lucknow in India. Graham is dressed in expensive clothes and holds a fine silver hookah for smoking tobacco. The hookah originated in India and is a type of water pipe which purified the tobacco. A family seal hangs from the bottom edge of Graham's waistcoat which he uses for the documents on his desk. His large waist is a result of him enjoying many large dinners in India. On his left the Indian landscape can be seen through a window. His son Major Reginald Torin Graham served at the battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Johan Zoffany was born in Frankfurt and trained as an artist in Germany and Italy before moving to London in 1760. He was one of the major artists working in Britain in the eighteenth century whose work gives a unique insight into wealthy British society.


Key facts: 
  • James Graham was a wealthy merchant involved with the East India Trading Company
  • Johann Zoffany who painted his portrait was a famous eighteenth century artist. Here he paints Graham surrounded by symbols of his wealth

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