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Mrs. Rigby – Mother of Lady Eastlake Hill, David Octavious  (Scottish, 1802-1870)Adamson, Robert  (Scottish, 1821-1848)

The severity of this portrait, taken in profile by Hill and Adamson, emphasizes Mrs. Anne Rigby’s strong character. The white, lace pelerine is contrasted with the dark dress, whose leaf pattern echoes the blurred foliage in the background. This photograph anticipates and may even have influenced the iconic painting Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter’s Mother (1871; Musee d’Orsay) by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. The American expatriate visited Edinburgh in July 1849 and, having connections with both Sir William Allan and the Rigbys, may have had the opportunity to view Hill and Adamson’s calotypes. It is known that in May 1893, more than twenty years after the completion of the painting, the James Craig Annan (1864-1946) sent copies of some of Hill and Adamson’s pictures to Whistler, who was dutifully impressed with their work. [1]

Hill’s influence on Annan is unmistakable when comparing this image of Mrs. Rigby to Annan’s Janet Burnet. See

Reproduced / Exhibited

Frank, Waldo D. America and Alfred Stieglitz: A Collective Portrait. New York: Aperture, 1979. pl. 15

America & Alfred Stieglitz: A Collective Portrait. Garden City, N.Y: Literary Guild, 1934. plate 1. a., (cover)

"The Camera" published by The Scottish Journal of Photography May 1912. Vol. 2, no. 15 (cover)


[1] J. Paul Getty Museum. In Focus : Hill and Adamson. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum; 1999.