The Cambridge Graduate

Richard Bankes Harraden


The style of this academic gentleman’s robe with the coloured braiding indicates that he was a fellow-commoner at Cambridge University. This was a rank above commoners, also known as pensioners, who did not have scholarships and so paid for their tuition. Fellow-commoners paid double the tuition fee but this gave them certain entitlements and perks. Those who wore an academic hat, as seen here, instead of a soft velvet cap were known as ‘hat fellow-commoners’ and were typically the younger sons of the nobility.

The silhouette is painted on card with sepia and dull gold watercolour highlights. Although unlabelled, it is recognisable as the work of Richard Bankes Harraden. It is set in the original papier-mâché frame with an emblems hanger.

Harraden was born in London in 1778 to Richard Harraden and Ann Waller. He married Sophia Prior in 1813 and with her had seven children. Harraden Senior was also an artist and engraver who published several books with views of Cambridge. Harraden Junior contributed to the later works including one on university costume. He was a member of the Society of British Artists where he exhibited landscapes of his native city.

Item Ref. 6613

Size: framed, 148 x 121mm (5¾ x 5")

Provenance: Diana Joll collection