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HomeContents > People > Photographers > James Graham

Other: Rev. James Graham 
Other: Rev. James Graham of Fereneze 
Dates:  1806 - 1869
Active:  Near East
A Scottish missionary who traveled to the Near East in the 1850s when it was under Ottoman rule. He photographed the historic sites of Jerusalem and the surrounding region. He taught Mendel Diness who was the first Jewish photographer in Jerusalem.

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Approved biography for James Graham
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

A native of Scotland, Graham arrived in Jerusalem in 1853 as the lay secretary of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews. Already proficient in the calotype, he turned his energies to providing visual evidence of biblical sites. While in Jerusalem and without any commercial motivation, Graham, most of whose negatives are dated 1854 and 1855, freely taught others to calotype. He befriended the Pre-Raphaelite painters William Holman Hunt and Thomas Seddon, both of whom based paintings on his photographs. Hunt especially relied on him, mentioning Graham’s photography in his journals, and Seddon even confessed to his fiancée that he used Graham’s photographs “to supply my own want of sketches.” In 1856 he took a journey of several months to Egypt, returning to Jerusalem to meet criticism from his religious associates, who accused him, as one wrote in a letter on June 6, of indulging “too much in the society of worldly people” (such as Hunt and Seddon). Graham returned to Britain in 1857. He showed his photographs in the 1859 Exhibition of Fine Arts in Paris and displayed more than twenty waxed-paper views of Jerusalem in the 1862 International Exhibition in London. Among Graham’s accomplishments are two calotype panoramas of Jerusalem, one in six parts and one in ten parts. 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
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Mendel Diness
Portrait of James Graham, Thomas Seddon and William Holman Hunt 
Family history 
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