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David Octavius Hill

David Octavius Hill was born in 1802 in Perth, Scotland and lived mostly in Edinburgh. His father was a bookseller and publisher active in re-establishing Perth Academy so David and his brothers were educated there. David learned lithography in the School of Design and produced Sketches, landscape paintings, book illustrations, including illustrations for editions of Walter Scott and Robert Burns.

He was present at the Disruption Assembly in 1843 when more than 450 ministers walked out of the Church of Scotland assembly to found the Free Church of Scotland. David and his friends Lord Cockburn and physicist Sir David Brewster wanted to record the dramatic scene. They came up with an idea to use the new invention, photography, to get likenesses of all the ministers present.

Brewster was himself experimenting with this technology which only dated back to 1839, and he introduced Hill to another enthusiast, Robert Adamson. Their collaboration, with Hill providing skill in composition and lighting, and Adamson considerable sensitivity and dexterity in handling the camera, proved extremely successful. Adamson's studio, "Rock House", on Calton Hill in Edinburgh became the center of their photographic experiments. Using the calotype process, they produced numerous portraits, both in the studio and outdoors, often amongst the tombs in Greyfriars Kirkyard.

They photographed local and Fife landscapes and urban scenes, including images of the Scott Monument under construction in Edinburgh. They photographed ordinary working folk, particularly the fishermen of Newhaven, and the fishwives, produced several groundbreaking "action" photographs of soldiers and - perhaps their most famous photograph - two priests walking side by side.

Their partnership produced around 3,000 prints but was cut short after only four years due to the ill health and death of Adamson in 1848. Hill died in 1870 and is buried in Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh.
[Officer of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders Reading to the Troops, Edinburgh Castle]
1819
1819
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1869
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1869
283 Media in collectionpage 1 of 3
View of a lake or river with a sailboat

View of a lake or river with a sailboat

David Octavius Hill (British, Perth, Scotland 1802–1870 Edinburgh, Scotland)

View of a Waterfall (recto); Landscape Study (verso)

View of a Waterfall (recto); Landscape Study (verso)

David Octavius Hill (British, Perth, Scotland 1802–1870 Edinburgh, Scotland)

View of a river with a promenade

View of a river with a promenade

David Octavius Hill (British, Perth, Scotland 1802–1870 Edinburgh, Scotland)

View of Fingal's Cave

View of Fingal's Cave

David Octavius Hill (British, Perth, Scotland 1802–1870 Edinburgh, Scotland)

View of the Thames with Figures in Foreground

View of the Thames with Figures in Foreground

David Octavius Hill (British, Perth, Scotland 1802–1870 Edinburgh, Scotland)

Kenneth Macleay

Kenneth Macleay

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Bonaly Towers. Home of Lord Cockburn

Bonaly Towers. Home of Lord Cockburn

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

James Aytoun

James Aytoun

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

William Borthwick Johnstone, William Leighton Leitch and David Scott as "The Monks of Kennaquhair" from Sir Walter Scott's "The Abbott"
Sir William Allan, P.R.S.A.

Sir William Allan, P.R.S.A.

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Dr. Jabez Bunting

Dr. Jabez Bunting

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

"Cookie" Miller

"Cookie" Miller

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Mr. and Mrs. John Thomson

Mr. and Mrs. John Thomson

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Robert Dundas Cay

Robert Dundas Cay

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Man]

[Man]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Lane and Lewis / Lane and Redding

Lane and Lewis / Lane and Redding

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Man]

[Man]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Fisher Lassies

Fisher Lassies

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

The 42nd Gordon Highlanders, Edinburgh Castle

The 42nd Gordon Highlanders, Edinburgh Castle

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

William Etty, R.A.

William Etty, R.A.

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

The Misses McCandlish

The Misses McCandlish

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. Mr. Smith of Borgue

Rev. Mr. Smith of Borgue

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Unidentified Man]

[Unidentified Man]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Man]

[Man]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

William Leighton Leitch

William Leighton Leitch

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Sir Charles Lyell - Geologist

Sir Charles Lyell - Geologist

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Unidentified Woman

Unidentified Woman

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Edinburgh.  The Scott Monument

Edinburgh. The Scott Monument

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

David Roberts

David Roberts

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Tree at Colinton

Tree at Colinton

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. Dr. Keith

Rev. Dr. Keith

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Edinburgh. Greyfriars' Churchyard

Edinburgh. Greyfriars' Churchyard

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Presbytery of Dumbarton

Presbytery of Dumbarton

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

St. Andrews. The Fore Tower of the Castle

St. Andrews. The Fore Tower of the Castle

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[George Gordon (?)]

[George Gordon (?)]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

St. Andrews (?). Ships in the Harbor

St. Andrews (?). Ships in the Harbor

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Lady, Standing

Lady, Standing

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. Charles John Brown

Rev. Charles John Brown

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

The Artist and the Grave Digger

The Artist and the Grave Digger

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Thomas Chalmers

Thomas Chalmers

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Edinburgh.  The Royal High School

Edinburgh. The Royal High School

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Dr. Welsh (Retiring Moderator of Gel' Assembly 1843)

Dr. Welsh (Retiring Moderator of Gel' Assembly 1843)

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Man]

[Man]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

John Murray (Publisher)

John Murray (Publisher)

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

James Dymock

James Dymock

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Lord Robertson

Lord Robertson

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Fishwife

Newhaven Fishwife

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Man]

[Man]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

George Gilfillan and Samuel Brown

George Gilfillan and Samuel Brown

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

St. Andrews. The Pends

St. Andrews. The Pends

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

St. Andrews

St. Andrews

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Master Finlay

Master Finlay

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Fisherman

Newhaven Fisherman

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

John Henning as Edie Ochiltree from Sir Walter Scott's "The Antiquary"
St. Andrews.  North Street, Fishergate

St. Andrews. North Street, Fishergate

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Man]

[Man]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Bonaly Towers

Bonaly Towers

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

"Edinburgh Ale" James Ballentine, Dr. George Bell, D.O. Hill

"Edinburgh Ale" James Ballentine, Dr. George Bell, D.O. Hill

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Moir (?) and John Wilson

Moir (?) and John Wilson

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Prof. John Wilson

Prof. John Wilson

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven

Newhaven

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Mrs. Grierson

Mrs. Grierson

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Dr. Arnold

Dr. Arnold

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. Dr. Andrew Sutherland

Rev. Dr. Andrew Sutherland

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Man]

[Man]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Dr. MacCulloch of Kelso and Greenock

Dr. MacCulloch of Kelso and Greenock

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Mrs. Marian Murray, Lady Stair

Mrs. Marian Murray, Lady Stair

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Patrick Byrne

Patrick Byrne

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Patrick Byrne

Patrick Byrne

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Sir John Jaffray and Dhanjiobai Nauroji

Sir John Jaffray and Dhanjiobai Nauroji

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Dr. Inglis, Halifax

Dr. Inglis, Halifax

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. Dr. John Purves, Jedburgh

Rev. Dr. John Purves, Jedburgh

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Finlay Children

Finlay Children

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Group

Newhaven Group

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Bonaly Towers. Home of Lord Cockburn

Bonaly Towers. Home of Lord Cockburn

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Kenneth MaCleay, R.S.A.

Kenneth MaCleay, R.S.A.

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Dr. Foulis

Dr. Foulis

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Edinburgh. Greyfriars' Churchyard

Edinburgh. Greyfriars' Churchyard

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. James Scott

Rev. James Scott

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. Thomas Jollie, Bowden

Rev. Thomas Jollie, Bowden

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Fisherman

Newhaven Fisherman

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Mrs. Shanker

Mrs. Shanker

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Edinburgh. Greyfriars' Churchyard

Edinburgh. Greyfriars' Churchyard

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

St. Andrews. The Fore Tower of the Castle

St. Andrews. The Fore Tower of the Castle

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Lady Elizabeth Eastlake

Lady Elizabeth Eastlake

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

The Porthole / Sergeant and Private of the 42nd Gordon Highlanders, Edinburgh Castle
Guthrie

Guthrie

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Miss Binney

Miss Binney

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Thomas Kitchenham Staveley, M.P. Ripon

Thomas Kitchenham Staveley, M.P. Ripon

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

The Misses McCandlish

The Misses McCandlish

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

MacKenzie (Tongue)

MacKenzie (Tongue)

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Dr. Monro

Dr. Monro

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

St. Andrews

St. Andrews

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Family

Newhaven Family

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers

Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers

In 1843, four hundred ministers of the Church of Scotland met in Edinburgh to sign the Deed of Demission, resigning their positions and privileges in order to establish the Free Church of Scotland. Inspired by ... more

Dr. Welsh

Dr. Welsh

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Group

Newhaven Group

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Man]

[Man]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Lady Ruthven

Lady Ruthven

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. Stephen Hislop, Missionary

Rev. Stephen Hislop, Missionary

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)