Hill & Adamson


Please scroll down this page for brief comments on ...

-  Early Days

-  Hill & Adamson  -  1843-1847

-  Calotypes  -  Newhaven Fishwives

-  Calotypes  -  Ministers of the Free Church of Scotland

-  Press Comment on the photography of Hill & Adamson


DO Hill

Early Days

David Octavius Hill was the eighth child in his family - hence the name Octavius.  He was born in Perth in 1802, son of Thomas Hill, bookseller and publisher.

He moved to Edinburgh in 1818, and joined Blackwoods publishers in Edinburgh and became Head Clerk in 1821.   -  Or maybe he didn't!  ***

DO Hill became Secretary of Royal Scottish Academy in 1830, a post he held until 1869.  In this capacity he worked with many of the leading British artists, and exhibited about 300 of his own landscapes at the Royal Scottish Academy.  He was a strong supporter of his fellow artists in their negotiations with the patronage bodies.

***  Please see Question below


Did DO Hill work for Blackwoods?

Is my comment above, about DO Hill working for Blackwoods, correct?  I ask this because somebody who has done extensive research on DO Hill was surprised to read my comment above.

Unfortunately, at the time that I added this comment  to the web site, about ten years ago, I was not adding references to the sources of all my statements to the web site.

I think I may have taken this comment  from the catalogue of an exhibition about DO Hill held at Perth Library, possibly around 1970, commemorating the centenary of Hill's death

I don't have a copy of the catalogue so I cannot check if that was the source, or  indeed whether or not I made an error when I added this information to the web site.

I see the Gazetteer of Scotland web site also includes a comment that DO Hill worked for Blackwoods in 1818, but this is dated 2011 and is unattributed, so perhaps it was taken from the comment above on the EdinPhoto web site!

This page on Wikipedia mentions that DO Hill's older brother, Alexander, moved from Perth to Edinburgh to join the publisher, Blackwoods - so this may have been the source of some confusion.

Peter Stubbs:  April 27, 2011

I've not yet found any evidence to support my comment above about DO Hill having worked for Blackwoods, it is probably best to assume that he never worked for Blackwoods.

Peter Stubbs:  April 30, 2011


Please email me if you have any views on this topic.  Thank you.

Peter Stubbs:  April 27, 2011


Hill & Adamson  -  1843-47

Between 1843 and 1847, Hill & Adamson worked in partnership to produce over 5000 photographs by Talbot's calotype process.

These, included buildings in Edinburgh and St Andrews, fisherwomen of Newhaven, many portraits of artists and several hundred portraits of Ministers of Church of Scotland.


Hill & Adamson Calotypes

Newhaven Fishwives

    Hill & Adamson  -  Newhaven  -  calotype

Hill & Adamson took many photos of Newhaven Fishwives.  The image above is taken from the only Hill & Adamson calotype negative that remains in the possession of EPS.

Edinburgh Photographic Society donated its collection of Hill & Adamson calotype negatives to The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 1987.  An exhibition was staged at the Gallery in the 1990s.


Hill & Adamson Calotypes

Ministers of the Free Church of Scotland 

From an extensive series of calotype portraits of ministers, Hill produced a painting of the 1843 Disruption of the Church of Scotland, when over 400 Ministers walked out of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and founded the Free Church of Scotland - a move supported by Sir David Brewster.  

The painting measured 11ft x 4 ft. 8ins.  Hill began working on it in 1843 and completed it in 1866.  This Painting now hangs on the wall of the Free Church's offices, The Mound, Edinburgh.

The Disruption painting was DO Hill's most ambitious undertaking, but the result is generally accepted as being less successful than his calotypes.  Many of the individual figures have been criticised as not fitting in well to make a satisfying, believable composition.


Press Comment on Hill & Adamson's photography

Hill & Adamson's work was highly praised in the Press when it was exhibited in the 1850s.

The significance of this  work appears to have gone unrecognised at the time of Hill's death in 1870.  [Obituaries]

However, interest was revived around 1900 when Francis Caird Inglis and James Craig Annan made prints from their work.     [HA:EVA]. 


More DO Hill pages

Lists of Photographers