Professor Alexander Monro Hill, David Octavious  (Scottish, 1802-1870)Adamson, Robert  (Scottish, 1821-1848)

The portrait of Dr. Munro [Monro] illustrates very well the qualities alluded to. It is simple and powerful to a high degree. Dr. Munro was the third of three generations who for one hundred and twenty-six consecutive years filled the chair of anatomy in the University of Edinburgh, and one could imagine, that in those days, when anesthetics were little known, he would amputate a limb without having his feelings specially harrowed by the sufferings of his patient.  

Provenance is by descent from Robert Carfrae (1820–1900), a partner in Moxon & Carfrae, Interior Decorators, of George Street, Edinburgh. Carfrae was a patron of the arts, and amongst other things hosted Sunday lunches for artists. He collected coins, paintings and other works of art and was a founder member of the Society of Antiquaries.  He was active in the establishment of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh where his portrait is included in one of the stained glass windows.

His business partner amassed serious debts and most of Carfrae’s art collection was sold off during the 19th century to pay off these debts and to save his partner’s family suffering disgrace. The photographs by Hill & Adamson no doubt escaped this sale because of their relatively low commercial value at the time.


Abridged from Bibl. 27: J. Craig Annan. ‘David Octavius Hill, R.S.A. – 1802-1870’. Camera Work, no. 11 (July 1905), p. 17-21.