Adamson, Robert (1821-1848) and Hill, David Octavius (1802-1870)
Robert Adamson 1821-1848
Adamson was educated as an engineer, but with the help of his brother, Dr. John Adamson, who worked as a professor of chemistry at the University of St. Andrews, he began early on to investigate photographic technology. In 1843 in Edinburgh Robert Adamson opened the first calotype studio. The physical setting of the studio was important, and “Rock House” had perfect conditions of light and shelter for photographing outdoors. The same year he received a commission from painter David Octavius Hill, who was creating a painting of the more than 450 men who had founded the Free Church of Scotland. Adamson took photographs, and Hill worked with composition and light. Their work resulted in ca. 1500 portraits in addition to other motifs treating nearby surroundings and people from the fishing village of Newhaven. Anderson and Hill also collaborated on devising stereographic images for Sir David Brewster. The collaboration of Hill and Adamson lasted until 1847 when Adamson became sick and moved to his family in Burnside. The next year the results of the collaborative work of Adamson and Hill were published in the book One Hundred Calotype Sketches. The full results of their efforts were first rediscovered in the 1870s, but Adamson’s name was unknown for a long time.

David Octavius Hill 1802-1870
Hill went to Perth Academy before becoming a student of painter Andrew Wilson in Edinburgh in 1822. Hill was one of the founders in 1829 of The Royal Scottish Academy and was its secretary from then until 1869. He was also a member of the Calotype Club in Edinburgh. In 1843 he worked as a portrait artist and received the commission to paint a group portrait of the several hundred people who in 1843 left the Scottish church to form the Free Church of Scotland. He sought the help of calotypist Robert Adamson, which became the beginning of a long artistic collaboration. Adamson took photographs with the artistic counsel of Hill. They worked together in Adamson's studio Rock House in Edinburgh and through 1847 they had made over 3000 negatives of people, buildings, and landscapes.
After Adamson became sick in 1847 Hill began to paint again. He exhibited paintings and photographs at The Royal Academy in Edinburgh the same year. The following year he published a book of portraits, One Hundred Calotype Sketches. He won the prize for best portrait from The Photographic Society of Scotland in 1862. At the same time he gained a new companion, A. MacGlashon, and they worked on the collodion process. In 1866 Hill finally finished the painting Signing the Act of Separation 1843. In the painting we see Adamson with a camera
19 photos · 743 views