caption

George Chapman, Amy Graham, later Lady Muir Mackenzie (1852–1900)

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)

Details

Country House
Mells Manor
Title(s)
Amy Graham, later Lady Muir Mackenzie (1852–1900)
Date
c.1870
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Overall height: 110 cm, Overall width: 72 cm
Artist
George Chapman (fl. 1863-1874)
Catalogue Number
MM65

Description

George Chapman, it has been stated, was ‘a portrait painter so obscure that he can scarcely be identified’.1 He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1863 and 1874 and was associated in particular with Arthur Hughes, Ford Madox Brown, Algernon Swinburne and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, with whom he spent several months in Cheyne Walk in 1866 or 1867, as well as in Swinburne’s former apartments at 22a Dorset Street, all in London. Chapman was evidently impecunious and in continual poor health: according to William Rossetti he died around 1880. It has been suggested that William Graham must have commissioned Chapman to paint his daughters, Amy and Frances (1854–1940; MM66), either through seeing his work at the Royal Academy or through meeting him perhaps at Rossetti’s house – or both.2

Amelia Margaret ‘Amy’ Graham (1852–1900) was one of eight children, and the third of six daughters of Sir William Graham. In 1874, she married Kenneth Muir Mackenzie who was appointed a QC in 1887 and later served in the Privy Council of Ramsay MacDonald’s first ever Labour government. The dress and style of this portrait suggest that it was completed c.1870, when Amelia would have been eighteen years old. In the portrait, she carries a bundle of red, white and pink roses. 

In a description of the contents of Mells Manor, written many years later, Frances Graham noted of the present portrait, which then hung in her bedroom: ‘the picture of Lady Mackenzie by Chapman was done for Mr. Wm. Graham, and left by Lady Mackenzie to her sister, Lady Horner’.3

by Devon Cox and Martin Postle

Footnotes

  1. Cecil Y. Lang, ed., The Swinburne Letters. Volume 1: 1854–1869, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959, p. 108 n. 4.

    1
  2. Caroline Dakers, ‘Culture and the Country House 1880–1940: With Selective Catalogues’, MA thesis, Royal College of Art, London, 1988, p. 354, no. 24.

    2
  3. Frances Horner, ‘Concerning Mells Manor House and its Contents’, bound typescript, n.p., Mells Manor Archive, D/08/0627.

    3

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