Thomas Matthew Rooke, William Graham (1817–1885)

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)


Country House
Mells Manor
William Graham (1817–1885)
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 54 cm, Overall width: 41 cm
Thomas Matthew Rooke (1842-1942)
Catalogue Number
  • Inscribed in lower left: ‘To FH’; signed and dated: ‘1902’; headed: ‘WILLIAM GRAHAM 1817–1885’


Thomas Matthew Rooke was a watercolourist and designer who worked as an assistant in the studio of Edward Burne-Jones from 1868 until 1898. Rooke first visited Mells Park House in 1888, when Frances Graham (1854–1940) noted that he was ‘copying some work for me at Mells sent by Mr Burne Jones’.1 Rooke later published his journals and memoir of working in Burne-Jones’s studio in which he admits to never having met William Graham.2 The present portrait, currently hanging in the Library at Mells, is signed 1902, nearly seventeen years after Graham’s death, which suggests that it was completed posthumously, possibly based on a photograph. This portrait presents a slightly more humane depiction of Graham than Burne-Jones’s sombre portrait from 1880 (MM75). It is, however, similar in size and format to the earlier portrait.

by Devon Cox


  1. Frances Horner to DD (Edith) Lyttelton, 1888, M/01/1265, cited in Caroline Dakers, ‘Culture and the Country House 1880–1940: With Selective Catalogues’, MA thesis, Royal College of Art, London, 1988, p. 401.

  2. Mary Lago, ed., Burne-Jones Talking: His Conversations 1895–1898 preserved by his Studio Assistant Thomas Rooke, London: John Murray, 1982, pp. 20–1.


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