James Graham (Scottish, 1806-1869)
Panorama, the Pyramids of Giza, 1857
Coated salt print from a paper negative
10.2 x 25.8 cm mounted on 31.5 x 48.0 cm paper
James Graham, of an old Scottish family, arrived in Jerusalem in 1853 as the lay secretary of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews. He resigned that position in 1856, and in 1857 he traveled to Egypt and revisited Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
Graham’s interest in photography is mentioned in the memoirs of Elizabeth Anne Finn, wife of the British consul in Jerusalem. She wrote: “During the autumn there arrived a lay secretary for the English Mission, Mr. James Graham, of old Scotch family. He had heard from my friends in England of successful attempts at photography, so he learnt the art and brought with him a fine photographic apparatus which he used to excellent effect. Mr. Graham engaged the help of one of our congregation and taught him the art. That was the beginning of photography in Jerusalem.”
During his stay in Palestine, Graham photographed the area from Syria and Lebanon to Egypt. He met the English Pre-Raphaelite painters William Holman Hunt and Thomas Seddon who visited the Near East, and accompanied them in their journeys, taking photographs while they were painting. His photographs and their paintings often bear striking similarities that suggest that some of their work was done after his photographs.
Excerpted from Nissan N. Perez, Focus East, Early Photography in the Near East, 1839-1885 (New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc. and Jerusalem: The Domino Press, 1988), pp.171-172