Adam Diston

Composition Picture

The Broken Toe

 A Compositon Photo by Adam Diston  -  "The Broken Toe" 

  Reproduced with acknowledgement to the National Gallery of Australia.


Adam Diston

Composition Picture

'The Broken Toe'

Here is one of two composition pictures by Adam Diston in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.  Please click here to see the other composition picture.

Old Woman Fish Seller
and Boy in Bar

   A Compositon Photo by Adam Diston  -  "Old Woman Fish Seller and Boy in a Bar"

The National Museum of Australia comments that these composition pictures were produced by Diston around the 1880s from several negatives of models dressed as workers and rustic types, and that this pair of photos may have formed a series illustrating a moral tale about the career of the young boy.

An article in John Nicol's 'Notes from the North' column in the British Journal of Photography [20 October 20, 1876, pp.499-500] gives fairly lengthy explanation of how Diston produced his composition photographs.


Do you have any further information about this or other composition photos by Diston?  If so, please email me.   e.g. Was the picture above perhaps one of Diston's award-winning photos?

Picture Label

The following information is given on the label on the photograph above:

 The Broken Toe  -  1880s

Albumen silver photograph on paper and on glass

Collection National Gallery of Australia Ray Rathbourne Films Fund



Composition Pictures



Eric Eunson wrote

Composition Pictures

"I have been a collector of Leven images for over thirty years.  I have about 20 Adam Diston cartes de visite portraits and ten cabinets,  including one of Talbot Cottage.  However,  I knew nothing of the composite pictures.

The pair in the Australian gallery are exquisite,  and I'm certain certain these are also taken in Leven.  The fishwife is certainly typical of the area.

The compositions remind me of Dutch masters' peasant interiors.  This and the expensive framing suggest they are a photographic attempt to emulate classical art as furnishing pieces.

Illustrations of morality tales tended to be cheap and cheerful productions by contrast. Obviously, Adam Diston is also developing the skill of photographing interiors, outside the studio.

Although they are posed some degree,  they are marvellous social history documents, and study of directories and census might suggest the identity of the cobbler."

Eric Eunson, Leven, Fife, Scotland:  September 11, 2009


Composition Pictures



Eric Eunson added

Old Woman Fish Seller and Boy

"A routine browse of Adam Diston's name threw up the Catalogue of Records from the RPS Annual Exhibitions. Adam Diston exhibited there 28 times between 1870 and 1892.

In 1870 he displayed four pictures including 'The Broken Toe' and one titled 'Waiting for Change'.

Eric Eunson, Leven, Fife, Scotland:  September 29, 2009



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