About this artwork

Robert Cunninghame Graham attained celebrity as a poet, supporter of human rights, and benefactor of Glasgow University. Like many wealthy eighteenth-century Scots, however, his prosperity was founded on involvement with the Caribbean slave economy. He was a planter, receiver-general of taxes and slaveholder in Jamaica. He exploited his position of power to have sexual relations with many enslaved women and continued to buy and sell slaves even after his return to Scotland in 1770-71. Raeburn’s boldly painted portrait gives no hint that Cunningham Graham’s wealth depended on the labour of enslaved Africans.

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Sir Henry Raeburn

Sir Henry Raeburn