22 January 2008

David Octavius Hill

Newhaven fishwives
by Hill & Adamson

David Octavius Hill standing at the gate to his studio
calotype by Hill & Adamson.

David Octavius Hill (1802–1870) and Robert Adamson (1821–1848)
Redding the Line (Portrait of James Linton), c. 1846
Scotish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh
image source: http://www.kiberpipa.org/gallery/album82/David_Octavius_Hill_and_Robert_Adamson_Baiting_the_Line_1845.jpg

David Octavius Hill (1802–1870) and Robert Adamson (1821–1848)
"Photograph from the frontispiece of an album dated 1848,
showing D O Hill sketching in Greyfriars Kirkyard, watched by the Misses Morris.
Other tableaux in the same setting included The Artist and The Gravedigger"
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Octavius_Hill

"Many of Hill's portraits were made in the Edinburgh Greyfriars cemetery - nothing is more characteristic of this early period than the way his subjects were at home there. And indeed the cemetery itself, in one of Hill's picture, looks like an interior, a separated closed-off space where the gravestones propped against gable walls rise up from the grass, hollowed out like chimney pieces, with inscriptions inside instead of flames. But this setting could never have been so effective if it had not been chosen on technical grounds. The low light-sensitivity of early plates made prolonged exposure outdoors a necessity. This in turn made it desirable to take the subject to some out-of-the-way spot where there was no obstacle to quiet concentration."
Walter Benjamin - A Small History of Photography

The Disruption Painting

The Disruption painting shows the signing of the Act of Separation and Deed of Demission by members of the Church of Scotland and the creation of the Free Church of Scotland. Around 1,500 people attended the signing of the Act of Separation. Hill entered into partnership with Robert Adamson in 1843 to produce calotypes of individual ministers, to be used for this painting. There are 457 figures in the painting , including a few who were not present at the ceremony. Robert Adamson is included in the picture with his camera.

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