- 2nd Exhibition
second PSS Exhibition opened on 12 December 1857 on an upper floor of 2 St David
Street, on the corner of Princes Street, now part
of Jenners’ department store. After the exhibition had concluded, the PSS Council reported:
first Exhibition of PSS was excellent; the second was in every respect superior.
Notwithstanding the depression caused by the Indian War and the recent
commercial crisis … the number of season tickets sold was more than double,
and the number of pictures sold more than treble those for last year.”
[PSS Council comment from 1858 AGM]
- 10am to 5pm @ 1/-
7pm to 9pm @ 6d or 3 for 1/-
- Season tickets 2/6d
Society clearly had some difficulty in placing placards around the City to
advertise its exhibition:
letter of 28 Ultimo requesting permission to the Photographic Society to place
Boards in certain places was yesterday submitted to the Council, who were
pleased to refuse this application
- I am sir, Your Obed. Servant, John Sinclair"
[Edinburgh Council: 12 December
have observed that a large
placard about the Photographic Society's exhibition has without Authority this
day been fixed to the railing belonging to the Prison Grounds. I request
that you will immediately cause it to be removed"
[Edinburgh Prison: 12
Exhibition made £35 profit, including £18 commission on the sale of
There were 853 photographs exhibited.
Only seven of the hundred artists used the old calotype process. Those by
Walker, Zeigler, Duncan and Mr Walker were regarded as the most
[The Witness: 26 December 1857]
Landscapes from Fenton and GW Wilson
Charming little pictures from Caldesi & Montecchi
[Caledonian Mercury: 29
Rodger, G&D Hay
and Truefitt, all from Scotland
Collodian Portraits by
Moffat, slightly touched
Daguerreotypes and mounted stereoscopic slides by Claudet
Architectural photography from Bisson Freres
An entry from Prince Albert, photographs by
Fenton, Frith and Le Grey
Portraits from HW Diamond
Photos by Mudd
"Art Photos" by OG Rejlander and Lake Price
A photograph of Livingstone, the African traveller by Rodger
of St Andrews
Several Scottish Highland views by amateurs, Mr & Mrs Horatio Ross of Rossie
Group portraits and different stages of playing golf by Dr Adamson and T Rodgers
were no entries to this exhibition from Ross & Thomson. Instead, the
exhibited over 30 photographs in the Art Manufacturers' Association Exhibition
also exhibited at the Art Manufacturers' Exhibition.
exhibition rooms attracted mixed comment in the Press:
the exhibition rooms are but the ordinary apartments of a dwelling house
converted and fitted up for the purpose, the place is a considerable improvement
on that in which the 1st exhibition took place in as much as it is
more central, and especially as it affords better and diffused lighting for
Courant: 12 December 1857]
The Photographic Society is this
year rather unfortunately located on the corner of Princes Street, entering from
St David’s Street, up a narrow trap stair, immediately over Messrs. Kennington
& Jenner’s establishment, occupying several small rooms, rather
indifferently lighted for this dark season of the year."
Witness: 26 December 1857]
The question of photography and art arose
again, just as it had at the 1st PSS Exhibition.
On this occasion, one of the questions was whether or not photography was a
suitable medium for copying art. The
Caledonian Mercury and the Daily Express took very different lines:
copies of paintings, engravings, lithographs &c. are interspersed through
the rooms, and show how successfully and correctly such works
be duplicated in this manner.”
Mercury: 29 December 1857]
these, we have no hesitation in affirming that they are a viscous and
illegitimate application of the photographic art, in no sense calculated to
honour the artist whose pictures are copied, nor to bring out the peculiar
excellence of photography.”
any confirmation of these remarks was needed, it would be found in the two
volumes of photographs from pictures in the Art Treasures Exhibition,
Manchester, on view in the room. A
collection of more unmitigated rubbish, considered as photography, it has never
been our bad fortune to see.”
Express: 28 December 1857]
Swedish photographer, OG Rejlander, based in Wolverhampton, was keen to
promote photography as a fine art. He
used multiple negatives to create his images.
Ways of Life to the 2nd PSS Exhibition.
This was a photograph created in the form of a painting, using 32
negatives, which had previously been highly praised.
It had been exhibited at Manchester earlier in the year.
But the PSS Hanging Committee declined to accept the picture for the PSS
Exhibition because of its semi-nude female figures.
Daily Express was particularly
vexed by the Hanging Committee’s decision.
It wrote on 1 January 1858:
Rejlander: - ‘Two Ways of Life’
was exhibited in the Art Treasures Exhibition in Manchester.
The Prince Consort has three copies of it. Sir David Brewster, the President has one copy.
It will scarcely be credited that the amateur ‘hanging committee’ of
PSS rejected it because there were half-draped female figures in it.
shall expect to hear some of these fanatics going up to the Royal Institution
… poking their finical walking sticks through the plump limbs of Tibaldi’s
at Mr Wood’s, 88 Princes Street, where the rejected photograph may be seen”
fact, a compromise may have been reached.
I have read a report that the picture was displayed with one half hidden behind
a draped cloth, though I'm not sure where it was on display in this way.
is the photograph which caused the controversy:
Ways of Life
O G Rejlander
The Royal Photographic Society, Bath,
England. web site http://www.rps.org.
photograph was made using thirty different negatives.
PSS rejected this photograph when it was submitted to their Exhibition.
Edinburgh’s professional photographers were unhappy with this decision.
Most soon left the PSS. Many
subsequently joined EPS when it was established in 1861.
Professional Photographers within the Society were unhappy with the decision of
the PSS Hanging Committee, particularly as the this committee consisted almost
entirely of amateurs.
A special meeting was called on 12 January 1858, by eight
professional photographers [almost all based in Princes Street], one
lithographer and one bookseller. Two
Motions were presented to the Meeting. They
In all time coming, the Council of the Photographic Society of Scotland should
be totally composed of practical amateur and professional photographers”
Of three Members of the Hanging Committee, two of these shall be professional
Members of the Society, or in case of future years, the Hanging Committee should
be enlarged, that there be at least a majority of professionals.”
Ross spoke in favour of the motions.
Ross spoke against the motions.
amateurs took steps to ensure that they were well represented at the
meeting. Both motions were heavily defeated.
of Edinburgh’s professional photographers resigned from PSS shortly
afterwards. Many went on to become
Members of Edinburgh Photographic Society, which was established on 20 February