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The Minnow Pool Hill, David Octavious  (Scottish, 1802-1870)Adamson, Robert  (Scottish, 1821-1848)

Whether arranging ministers for the Disruption Picture or friends for an informal portrait, Hill and Adamson displayed a talent at working with groups. This ability is particularly notable in this image of the children of the solicitor Charles Finlay (1788-1872). Arranged in a pyramidal composition, Arthur, John Hope, and Sophia sit patiently on lichen-covered stone steps fishing for minnows. Keeping the siblings still was quite an accomplishment for the photographers, who needed sitters to remain in a fixed position for the duration of the exposure, which sometimes could be as long as a couple of minutes, depending upon the lighting. In The Minnow Pool Hill and Adamson have successfully captured the sense of children at play. The informal poses—Sophia leaning on the top step and John Hope allowing his leg to protrude—and casual props—a dangling fishing rod and cast-off straw bonnet convey a carefree scene. Hill had a child of his own, a daughter named Charlotte (1839-62), who was born the very year photography was announced to the world. A second daughter died shortly after birth in 1840 followed shortly by Hill’s spouse. In 1862 he married the sculptor Amelia Paton (1802-1904). Adamson, who died young, had no wife or children of his own. [1]

Reproduced / Exhibited

Kruse, Margret. Kunstphotographie Um 1900: D. Sammlung Ernst Juhl; Hamburg: Museum für Kunst u. Gewerbe, 1989 pl. 491

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. 41


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