Edinburgh Photographic Society


Open Exhibition

The 1890 Open Exhibition was held from 14 November 1890 until 7 January 1891 at the RSA National Galleries, Princes Street.

This view inside the National Gallery at the Foot of the Mound will give some idea of the surroundings in which the 1890 Exhibition was held.

The Practical Photographer described the Exhibition as

 "the finest by a long way that has yet appeared in Scotland".

This was the Season Ticket for the Exhibition.

Season Ticket (outside)

EPS 1890 Exhibition  -  Season Ticket (outside)

©  Reproduced by courtesy of Edinburgh Photographic Society

Season Ticket (inside)

EPS 1890 Exhibition  -  Season Ticket (inside)

©  Reproduced by courtesy of Edinburgh Photographic Society


1,500 Photographs Exhibited

There were over 1500 photographs in the Exhibition.  There were five judges, described in the catalogue as jurors.

It was reported in Practical Photographer:

"Silver printing is still well represented, but the larger and more important works are executed in carbon and platinum.  Bromide also puts in a fair claim to notice.   All the less usual processes are exhibited:

-  aristotype

-  kallitype

-  Diazotype

-  vitrified enamels

-  etc., etc."

"Combination subjects  -  the result of laboured printing from several negatives - are almost absent.  The famous example 'Two Ways of Life' by Rejlander is hung, but its original brightness is very much gone."


Two Ways of Life  -  Oscar Gustav Rejlander ©

[The Practical Photographer:  1 Jan 2003, pp.16-17 ]


1350 catalogues sold at 6d each for £33 15s 0d.  They gave details of all photographs in the exhibition  -  titles, process and name of exhibitor

A series of lectures was run in connection with the Exhibition.  Each catalogue had about 80 pages and included a summary of these lectures together with a review of the progress in photography over the previous 50 years.


Exhibition Entertainment

There was Musical Arrangements by kind permission of the Officers, the String Band of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders played selections on Wednesday Afternoons 3-5pm; and on Saturday Evenings 8-10pm.  

The Exhibition advertised:

"Afternoon Tea and Coffee in the South Octagon, served in first-class style by The Edinburgh Café Company."


"Popular Lectures illustrated by Lime-Light Views.  Charming display of Photo Transparencies on the Screen,  Every Friday Evening at Eight.  Open to all Visitors"

Exhibition Lectures

A series of lectures was run in connection with the Exhibition.  
They were:

  Historical Sketch of Photography

-   Photographic Optics

-   Chemistry in the Dark-Room

-   Woodburytype

Ten Days on the Hardanger Norway

The Architecture of Normandy and Brittany

The Exhibition Catalogue includes a summary of the subjects included in each of these Lectures.



EPS Council suggested 5/- be paid by each member towards a Guarantee Fund, and that each member should buy a season ticket for 2/6d.


There were five judges, described in the catalogue as Jurors.  Awards were:

1 Gold Medal 

-  for the Best Picture in the Exhibition.

 3 Silver Medals  and 3 Bronze Medals

-  for Apparatus

-  for Materials

-  for Processes

1 Silver Medal  and 1 Bronze Medal  
for the best two prints in each of the following classes:

Landscapes  x 8½ inches and under

Landscapes over 6½   x 8½ inches

-  Portraits below wholeplate size in sets of 12 direct prints

Portraits 6½  x 8½ inches up to 10 x 12 inches in sets of 6 direct prints

Portraits above 10 x 12 inches in sets of 6 direct prints

-  Single Figure Studies, not to exceed 15 x 12 inches, direct prints

Combination Printing

Genre Pictures

-  Instantaneous Pictures

Architecture and Engineering

Scientific: Micro-Photography, Botany, Astronomy, Geology, Surgery,  &c

-  Landscapes, Half-plate and under.  Confined to Amateurs

-  Photographs, any subject. Confined to Amateur Members of  EPS

Pictures which have previously not Obtained a Prize

-  Lantern Slides, in sets of six

Reproduction of Pictures by any Process not Mechanical

Vitreous Enamels

-  Photo-Mechanical Prints

Enlargements, which must be accompanied by Original Negatives



Many valuable and rare historic items were loaned for display at the Exhibition. 

The journal Practical Photographer reported:


"In the apparatus department the tables make an attractive display, from cameras about as big as bathing machines with the latest means of adjustment, to the last little notion out.   ...

"In the historical section, there were such curiosities as:

-   Sutton's panoramic camera with globe water lens, bent negatives, baths and printing frames of date about 1855.

-   CGH Kinnear's original model conical bellows camera, 1857

-   Aird's hand camera, the father of all that tribe and the first example of carrying plates in moveable sheaths, 1875

-   Piazzi Smyth's camera of Tenerife and Russian fame."

[The Practical Photographer:  1 Jan 2003, pp.16-17 ]


The catalogue listed:

-  early Daguerreotypes, including , among others, group of Her Majesty the Queen, with  Princess Royal and Prince of Wales, l845

-  early Calotypes taken by Fox Talbot himself

-  early Calotypes of Edinburgh Celebrities by DO Hill

-  copies of “Sun Pictures” , being the first book illustrated by Photographs, containing Calotypes of Heriot’s Hospital ,and Sir Walter Scott’s Monument in course of erection, &c; and many other interesting relics of the early days.

From E Lennie

From JM Turnbull an Old Camera fitted with back, carrying four plates which are exposed in the Bath by means of Shutters, a daguerreotype of about 1849 and 3 glass positives.

From J Moffat exhibited a Stereoscope, with Daguerreotype of Queen &c, at Crystal Palace Exhibition, 1851.

From Major Plant:   several Daguerreotypes, from 1844 onwards.

From Misses Radcliffe:

-  Early Tablotypes
-  Sun Pictures of Scotland, by Fox Talbot
-  The Pencil of Nature by Fox Talbot
-  Photogenic Drawings, 1837, by Fox Talbot

Photographs by DO Hill

Amongst the exhibits in the exhibition were some early prints by DO Hill, which his widow had kindly loaned to EPS for display.  Click here to see the Bill from the company commissioned to remove the prints from Mrs Hill's house for display in the exhibition.


Press Reports

The 1890 Exhibition was widely reported in the Press.  Here are some extracts from the reports:

“We may say at once that no exhibition of recent years has equalled the manner in which the rooms are arranged.  True, the Royal Scottish Academy National Galleries are not only eminently adapted for the purpose, but are in themselves beautifully designed and decorated.  

Not content with this however, the Society has still further improved the general appearance by artistic drapery. The galleries consist of a series of alcoves with archways between.  These run in a straight line, and the view from either end is enchanting, compared to the rough and ready style of most of our exhibitions.  The archways are draped, and round the two sides of each alcove, just above the pictures runs a continuous drapery.  

Plants, handsome lounges and chairs, and curtains go to form accompaniments that are in themselves extremely attractive.  .  .  .  .  At Edinburgh everything is done neatly, and the artistic mind receives no shocks, but is pleased form beginning to end."

“The President, Mr Hippolyte Blanc, is quite an enthusiast in the educational aspect.  All round, just underneath the drapery above the pictures, appear the names of the various inventors and discoverers; and the collection of loan pictures of old work is not only interesting, but far away exceeds anything of the kind attempted before.  These in themselves are quite a feature of the exhibition  and reflect great credit upon the Council of the Society.



EPS Exhibitions

EPS Open  Exhibitions

1861    1863   1872   1873    1876   1890    1896    1897    1898    1899    1900   1901   Feb_1902   Nov_1902   1903   1905    1906   1907   1908    1909    1910    1911    1912   1913     1914   1915   1916    1917    1918    1919    1923    1924    1926    1928    1931    1937   1939    1940    1942   1945    1948    1949   1950   1951    1952   1953   1954    1955  1956   1957    1958    1959   1961    1962    1963    1969   1981    1990s   1995  Photos   2001   2002   2003   2004   2005  2006    2007    2008    2009   2010    2011    2012    2013    2014    2015   2016   2017   2018

Catalogues:  from 1987             Posters:  from 2001

Countries:    A-G    H-Q    R-Z     All     by year

Medals and Ribbons awarded:   1994- 2004

Judges/Selectors:    1861-1910     1911-40      1941-60      1961-80     1981-

EPS Members' Exhibitions

1882    1885    1889   1891    1892   1893   1894   1895   1896    1898    1908   1909   1910    1911   1912    1913   1914    1920    1922    1939    1940    1941    2004   2005   2006

Judges/Selectors:    1861-1910     1911-1960     1961-     Trophies

Exhibition Rules      1891