The son of Thomas Graham and Margery Campbell, grand-aunt of 1st Marquess Breadalbane, Alexander Graham was born sometime after 1669. Though little that was recorded of his life is now left to us, we know that it was through his marriage to Margaret Stirling, daughter of George Stirling of Auchyle and Herbertshire, that he consolidated and strengthened the family ownership of various Scottish landed estates, maintaining a home at Duchray Castle near to the “Trossachs” town of Aberfoyle, close to Stirling. He is recorded as having written about the geography of this part of Scotland in 1724.
This portrait is similar in style to the work of William Aikman who was to become the pre-eminent portrait painter in Scotland after the death of Sir John de Medina in 1710. His style and Medina’s proved a strong influence with many talented yet, now, unknown artists working at the time; elements of the composition reflect this, particular the facial expression and depiction of the wig.
A smaller scale portrait such as this may have been painted as a “cabinet picture” and therefore kept in a relatively small, private room to which only those with whom the family were on especially intimate terms would be admitted, the bigger portraits meant for display in large public rooms. Heating the main rooms in large palaces or mansions in the winter was difficult and small rooms were more comfortable also offering more privacy from servants or other household members or visitors.