Mrs. Rigby Hill, David Octavious  (Scottish, 1802-1870)Adamson, Robert  (Scottish, 1821-1848)

Mrs. Anne Rigby (1777-1872) moved to Edinburgh from Norfolk, England, in 1842, accompanied by her daughters Matilda and Elizabeth. Described by one relative as "a bright, clever, energetic woman," Mrs. Rigby "was a strict disciplinarian as to punctuality" who "never allowed her children to have ‘nerves.’" The severity of this portrait, taken in profile by Hill and Adamson, emphasizes her 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 i. 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 Secessionist photographer James Craig Annan (1864-1946) sent copies of some of Hill and Adamson’s pictures to Whistler, who was dutifully impressed with their work (In Focus: Hill and Adamson, The Getty)

Hill’s influence on Annan is unmistakable when comparing this image of Mrs. Rigby to Annan’s Janet Burnet. See https://photogravure.com/collection/janet-burnet-2/?artist=Annan%2C%20James%20Craig&period=All&cw=All&portfolio=All&atelier=All&medium=All&keywords=&searchPage=6

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)