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EPS  -  1876 Open Exhibition


Exhibition Suggested

Discussions of holding a major exhibition in Edinburgh in the winter of 1875-76 began in November 1875 when Alex Asher presented his paper to the Society.  His paper was titled:

"Exhibitions - a Stimulus to Advance True Progress in Photography"

On 4 October 1876, a paper was presented by WH Davies.   The title was:

"What should be done to make the Exhibition a Success?"

WH Davies proposed that the exhibition should be made sufficiently extensive, varied and attractive to be worthy of the attention of the general public.  He also spoke of the need to ensure that the exhibition was a financial success. 

To ensure the financial success, the EPS Council established a guaranteed fund and recommended that EPS Members subscribe to this fund.

Royal Scottish Academy

Enthusiasm and determination of the organisers increased when the Lords of Her Majesty's Treasury agreed to grant the use of the Royal Scottish Academy National Galleries for the exhibition.

No charge was made for use of the Galleries.

The Gallery was over 200 ft in length, and included five octagonal rooms, in three of which tables were placed to show apparatus, chemicals and appliances.

The Exhibition is Advertised

WH Davies suggested that the exhibition must be made sufficiently extensive, varied and attractive to be worthy of the attention of the general public.  It was also important that the exhibition should be a financial success.

Dr Nicol and Mr Dobbie reported to this Meeting that they had broadcast information about the exhibition:

"... by the issuing of copies of the circular formerly submitted to the Society.  Copies had been posted to nearly every photographer in Britain, America, India and the colonies, while the continent had also, so far as practicable been attended to."

Following a suggestion by Mr Davies, it was agreed to set up a small committee to endeavour to collect as many specimens of earlier processes as possible.

[BJP:  13 October 1876;  p.490]

The Opening

Six hundred ladies and gentlemen were invited to the Opening of the Exhibition on 20 December 1876.  The exhibition was opened by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir James Falshaw.

The Lord Provost:

"assured those present that such a fine collection of photographic pictures had never before been brought together in Great Britain  -  an opinion which was endorsed by many visitors present who had seen nearly all the collections made, not only at home, but also abroad including that recently closed at Philadelphia."

[BJP:  29 December 1876;  p.616]

Items  Exhibited

The British Journal of Photography reported [29 Dec 1876, p.621] that the exhibition completely occupied the Academy's rooms, and that nearly every civilised country was more or less adequately represented:

Professor Piazzi Smyth, the Astronomer Royal,  exhibited the original camera with which he photographed inside the pyramids, and his cloud camera fitted with a plano-concave converter to remove spherical distortion.  He also provided some of his photographic studies of sunlit cloud.

Messrs Ross & Pringle exhibited a complete set of their daguerreotype apparatus

Two volumes of portraits by Hill & Adamson, and several other books were displayed.

[BJP:  29 December 1876;  p.616]


There were 1,135 entries in the Exhibition Catalogue, and over 3,000 photographs, excluding the cartes de visite, from 200 photographers.

Amongst the prominent photographers exhibiting, there were:

-   HP Robinson, Tunbridge Wells  -  several composition groups

-   Vernon Heath, London  -  several enlarged landscapes

-   Mrs Cameron, Isle of Wight  -  Rembrantesque photographs effectiveness

-   John Pouncy, Dorchester  -  early carbon prints

-   Annan, Glasgow  (portraits of professors)

-   GW Wilson, Aberdeen  -  views

-   Mr Valentine, Dundee  -  views

-   Thomas Annan, Glasgow  -  views

Edinburgh photographers exhibiting included:

John Annan  (views around Edinburgh)

A Asher  (portraits and reproductions from engravings)

EW Dallas  (portraits)

DO Hill (calotypes)

John Horsburgh  (Prince Consort Memorial Ceremony)

J Howie Jun.  (portraits)

Kyles & Moir  (portraits in oils enlarged from cartes de visite)

P Low  (portraits)

Mr Mathieson  (architecture and landscape)

John Moffat  (portraits of public men)

RJ Muir, Amateur  (landscape)

-  Alexander Nicol

George A Panton, VP of EPS, Amateur  -  (landscapes)

Capt. Horatio Ross, Veteran amateur (hunting scenes)

William Neilson  (portraits)

Ross & Pringle  (portraits including Noel Paton and Kenneth MacLeay)

Charles Piazzi Smyth, Amateur (cloud studies)

Mr Turnbull  (architecture)

ER Yerbury  (portrait in carbon and views)

[BJP: 29 Dec 1876, pp.621-2 and Jan 1877;  pp.312,19,45]


EPS  -  1876 Open Exhibition

Reports in the BJP

This exhibition received extensive coverage in the British Journal of Photography, and no doubt other photographic journals.  These articles would make a good subject for further investigation. 

The articles in the British Journal of Photography were published in:

-   BJP  29 Dec 1876, p.615

-   BJP    5 Jan 1877:  p.3

-   BJP  12 Jan 1877:  p.15

-   BJP  19 Jan 1877:  p.27

-   BJP  26 Jan 1877:  p.39

-   BJP  26 Jan 1877:  p.45

-   BJP    9 Feb 1877:  p.62.



EPS 1876 Open Exhibition



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