Elmslie William Dallas



Artist and Photographer

EW Dallas was an artist before becoming a photographer.

Painting by EW Dallas

   Painting by EW Dallas

Please click on the picture to see a larger image.


He  had photographic studios in Edinburgh between 1860 and 1878.

He produced cartes de visite of Sir James Young Simpson, Professors Simpson, Professor Turner and others.



3rd PSS Exhibition, Dec 1858

Four collodion albumen landscapes were exhibited in the 3rd PSS Exhibition in 1858 (two under the name E W Dallas and two under the name W Dallas

Glasgow Photographic Society Exhibition, 1859

EW Dallas exhibited fourteen landscapes, including several views near Moffat in the Scottish Borders, in the Glasgow Photographic Society Exhibition, in 1859.

4th PSS Exhibition, Dec 1859

He exhibited landscapes, copies form other prints, fragments, sculptures, portraits, etc. in the 4th PSS Exhibition in 1859.

5th PSS Exhibition, Feb 1861

He exhibited  23 photographs, mostly portraits in the 5th PSS Exhibition in Feb 1861.

6th PSS Exhibition, Dec 1861

He exhibited cartes de visite in the 6th PSS Exhibition.  Described as: "cartes de visite  above average quality"  [The Scotsman:  1/1/1862]

8th PSS Exhibition, Feb 1864

He exhibited  a frame of cartes de visite and a frame of portraits in the 8th PSS Exhibition in Feb 1864;  also several portraits including one titled 'T Rodger Esq., St Andrews' and one titled 'Three Cricketers'.

9th PSS Exhibition, Dec 1864

He exhibited  seventeen collodion portraits, including one of T Rodger, St Andrews photographer, in the 9th PSS Exhibition in Dec.1864.


Question 1

EPS Lecturer

Was EW Dallas the same person as the photographer as gave a lecture below to EPS in session 1868-69?

"Notes of Experiments by New Printing Process of Mr WH Davies"


Question 2


I had not discovered the Christian names of EW Dallas until I received this message from Constantia Nicolaides, who wrote:

"I was wondering if he was Elmslie William Dallas (1809-1879). He has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, albeit a very short one."

Constantia Nicolaides, Photographic Cataloguer,
National Portrait Gallery, London:  January 29, 2008

Answer 2

Name Agreed

I've now checked and found that this is indeed the same man, so I've now updated the web site to include his full name.

He is listed under the name, Elmslie William Dallas (1809-1879) in Roger Taylor's publication, 'Photographs Exhibited in Britain 1839-1865' [Publ:  National Gallery of Canada]

His final entry in the listing of Photographers in the Edinburgh & Leith Post Office Directory was in 1878, the year before his death.

Peter Stubbs:  January 30, 2008


Question 3

Carte de Visite

Here is a carted de visite by E W Dallas, of an officer with Medals.  Please click on the thumbnail image below to read the comments about it and a question asked by Judy Joel-Chapman who sent the carte de visite to me:

Carte de visite by E W Dallas  -  Officer with Medals


Thank you to Jaime Hayes for telling me about an obituary to Elmslie William Dallas that was published in Proceedings of Royal Society of Edinburgh, Vol X.

Below are some extracts from this obituary.


Elmslie William Dallas


E W Dallas:

-  was born in London on June 27, 1809, 2nd son of William Dallas, underwriter at Lloyds.

-  studied at the Royal Academy 1831-34

 -  lived as an artist in Munich, Venice, Rome, Dresden and Florence, producing drawings, etchings and watercolours, 1834-40

-  exhibited his first painting at the Royal Academy, 1838

-  returned to England and assisted in the decoration of the garden pavilion at Buckingham Palace, 1840

-  moved to Edinburgh in 1842, and lived there until his death.

-  became a regular contributor to RSA Annual Exhibitions 1842-58.

-  Elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), 1851

-  Married Jane Fordyce Rose in 1859, then became a professional photographer, producing carbon prints.

-  Suffered blood poisoning, from bichromate of potash, used in carbon printing, 1870

-  suffered typhoid fever in 1877

-  died at Dean-bank House, Edinburgh, January 26, 1879.



Professor Smyth's Comments

Professor Piazzi Smyth knew E W Dallas from 1846 until 1879.  Amongst his many memories of E W Dallas, Professor Smyth said:


"The mere extent of his knowledge in the fine arts and the great number of his acquisitions in the exact sciences were, to say the least of them, very noticeable.

But still more noticeable was the soundness of his knowledge of every subject he had studied.  ...  almost whatever he said or did at any time, has stood;  having been proved by subsequent experience to be true;  and I have never regretted any moments I have spent in his company, either listening to his opinions or discussing his views."


"Long before he adopted photography as a profession, and when very few persons in this country knew anything about it, he had become conversant with the newly-born art in all its chemical, as well as its optical and mechanical details;  and he had prepared, with his own hands, special and instantaneous apparatus for applying it, on the one hand to record sun spots as shown by a telescope;  and on the other hand to picture microscopic images of his favourite forms of naviculae."

Acknowledgement: Jaime Hayes, Switzerland:  December 28, 2008.  (James Hayes' 2 x great grandmother was May Susan Rose, sister of Jane Fordyce Rose who married EW Dallas in 1859.)

The extracts above have been taken from an obituary to Elmslie William Dallas that was published in Proceedings of Royal Society of Edinburgh, Vol X, Nov 1878 to July 1880.



Thank you to Jaime Hayes for also sending me this photograph of a gravestone to the Rose family.

Greyfriars Graveyard  -  Gravestone to members of the Rose Family, including Elmslie William Dallas

One of the names on this gravestone standing, centre right, in this photo is:

Elmslie William Dallas FRSE

born 27th June, 1809, died 26th January, 1879

 This photo was taken in the graveyard at Greyfriars' Church, Edinburgh.

Acknowledgement:  Jamie Hayes:  April 3, 2009

Photo and Genealogy

Thank you to Jaime Hayes who emailed me again, telling me:


"I have just come across three cartes de visite by E.W. Dallas. They are part of the National Portrait Gallery collection.

One of the portraits (unfortunately "web image not currently available") is apparently of E.W. Dallas himself !"


"E.W. Dallas and his family are included in the published Dallas genealogy: "The history of the family of Dallas, and their connections and descendants from the twelfth century" (1921) by James Dallas (pages 405 & 406).

Acknowledgement:  Jamie Hayes:  April 15, 2010