Master Grierson Hill, David Octavious  (Scottish, 1802-1870)Adamson, Robert  (Scottish, 1821-1848)

The famous partnership and collaboration between the artist David Octavius Hill and the photographer Robert Adamson came into being originally in order to produce photographic portraits to assist Hill as a painter. The team produced a wide range of superb, valuable work and they were the first consistently and successfully employ calotype process in Great Britain. In 1843 Hill was introduced to Adamson and they began to collaborate on the production of calotype portraits as reference images for the painting ‘The Signing of the Deed of Demission’ which represents 474 dignitaries. Essentially, Hill posed and arranged the individual sitters or groups while Adamson attended to the technical aspects of the exposure, processing, and printing. Some of their most powerful images, however, were made in Scottish seashore villages and depict fishermen and women. They also photographed the architecture and monument of Scotland and made calotypes of their friends posed in medieval armor or costumes.

Reproduced / Exhibited

Schwarz, Heinrich. David Octavius Hill, Master of Photography: With 80 Reproductions Made from Original Photos and Printed in Germany. London: G.G. Harrap, 1932. pl. 39

Kruse, Margret. Kunstphotographie Um 1900: D. Sammlung Ernst Juhl; Hamburg: Museum für Kunst u. Gewerbe, 1989 pl. 478

Getty Object Number: 84.XO.734.4.2.50

V&A accession number 67379

National Portrait Gallery London NPG P6(179)

National Gallery of Canada Accession number 31252


Fagence Cooper, Suzanne, Pre Raphaelite Art in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, V&A Publications, 2003. 176p., ill. ISBN I 85177 393 2

Stevenson, Sara. ‘David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson: Catalogue of their Calotypes Taken Between 1843 and 1847 in the Collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery’, (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 1981). ISBN 0903148374