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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 3 of 3
St. Andrews. The College Church of St. Salvator

St. Andrews. The College Church of St. Salvator

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Group

Newhaven Group

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. James Scott

Rev. James Scott

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Children

Newhaven Children

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Fishwives

Newhaven Fishwives

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Henning with Parthenon Frieze

Henning with Parthenon Frieze

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. Dr. Keith

Rev. Dr. Keith

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Two Unidentified Men]

[Two Unidentified Men]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Sir David Brewster, Earle Monteith, Dr. Welsh & Two Others

Sir David Brewster, Earle Monteith, Dr. Welsh & Two Others

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. George Lewis, Dundee

Rev. George Lewis, Dundee

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Kenneth Macleay

Kenneth Macleay

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Jimmy Miller

Jimmy Miller

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Thomas Chalmers

Thomas Chalmers

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Edinburgh. Greyfriar's Churchyard

Edinburgh. Greyfriar's Churchyard

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Dr. Welsh

Dr. Welsh

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

James Ballantine

James Ballantine

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Mrs. Marian Murray

Mrs. Marian Murray

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Fishwife

Newhaven Fishwife

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

D.O. Hill and W.B. Johnstone

D.O. Hill and W.B. Johnstone

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev D.T.K. Drummond

Rev D.T.K. Drummond

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Man]

[Man]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Man]

[Man]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Frederic Monod (Paris)

Frederic Monod (Paris)

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

St. Andrews. College Church of St. Salvator

St. Andrews. College Church of St. Salvator

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Hugh Miller

Hugh Miller

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Prof. Fraser, Rev. Welsh, Rev. Hamilton, and Three Other Men

Prof. Fraser, Rev. Welsh, Rev. Hamilton, and Three Other Men

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

James Gordon, Dr. Hanna, and Mr. Cowan

James Gordon, Dr. Hanna, and Mr. Cowan

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

General John Munro, Teanich

General John Munro, Teanich

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

John Henning with Group of Ladies

John Henning with Group of Ladies

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Cunningham, Beff, John Hamilton, Guthrie

Cunningham, Beff, John Hamilton, Guthrie

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Edinburgh.  Greyfriars' Churchyard

Edinburgh. Greyfriars' Churchyard

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. W. W. Duncan, Peebles (Sweet William)

Rev. W. W. Duncan, Peebles (Sweet William)

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. Dr. William Hamilton Burns

Rev. Dr. William Hamilton Burns

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Miss Munro

Miss Munro

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Fishwives

Newhaven Fishwives

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Dr. Smyttan

Dr. Smyttan

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Fishwives

Newhaven Fishwives

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Lindlithgow Castle

Lindlithgow Castle

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Old Royal High School, Calton Hill, Edinburgh]

[Old Royal High School, Calton Hill, Edinburgh]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Archibald Butler of Faskally

Archibald Butler of Faskally

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Fishwives

Newhaven Fishwives

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

John Wilson

John Wilson

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Man]

[Man]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Dr. Cook

Dr. Cook

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Sir John Boilleau

Sir John Boilleau

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Mrs. Jameson

Mrs. Jameson

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Dr. Sampson of York

Dr. Sampson of York

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Sir John Robert Steell

Sir John Robert Steell

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Fishwives

Newhaven Fishwives

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Mrs. Watson

Mrs. Watson

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Laird of Portmoak

Laird of Portmoak

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)

Presbytery of Dundee

Presbytery of Dundee

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

John Henning as Edie Ochiltree from Sir Walter Scott's "The Antiquary"
Edinburgh. Greyfriars' Churchyard

Edinburgh. Greyfriars' Churchyard

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Man]

[Man]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

St. Andrews. The Pends

St. Andrews. The Pends

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. Thomas Jolly of Bowden

Rev. Thomas Jolly of Bowden

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers and Thomas Chalmers Hanna

Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers and Thomas Chalmers Hanna

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Mrs. Rigby

Mrs. Rigby

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

St. Andrews. Blackfriars' Chapel

St. Andrews. Blackfriars' Chapel

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Couple Seated, Woman Reading

Couple Seated, Woman Reading

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Sir William Allan

Sir William Allan

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Edinburgh.  Greyfriars' Churchyard

Edinburgh. Greyfriars' Churchyard

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. John Julius Wood

Rev. John Julius Wood

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Rev. R. Brewster of Craig

Rev. R. Brewster of Craig

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Man]

[Man]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Jacob Abbott

Jacob Abbott

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

[Man, Full-length]

[Man, Full-length]

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

St. Andrews.  The West Port

St. Andrews. The West Port

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

St. Andrews

St. Andrews

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Dr. Inglis, Halifax

Dr. Inglis, Halifax

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Newhaven Fishermen

Newhaven Fishermen

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Sir John McNeill

Sir John McNeill

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Hartcourt (Brother of Archbishop of York)

Hartcourt (Brother of Archbishop of York)

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Sobieski Stuart

Sobieski Stuart

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

William Leighton Leitch

William Leighton Leitch

Hill and Adamson (British, active 1843–1848)

Sir David Brewster

Sir David Brewster

An eminent physicist at St. Andrews University in Scotland, Sir David Brewster was among Talbot's scientific correspondents and one of the first to receive reports and samples of the new art. By 1841 Brewster a... more

Lady Ruthven

Lady Ruthven

The vast majority of Hill and Adamson photographs show the ministers of the Free Church, notable residents of Edinburgh and distinguished visitors, or the hardy fisherfolk of Newhaven and Saint Andrews. On occa... more

[Newhaven Fishwives]

[Newhaven Fishwives]

Among the first to produce a large body of self-consciously artistic photographs, the painter Hill and the photographer Adamson are best known for the hundreds of Rembrandtesque portraits made during their brie... more

David Young and Unknown Man, Newhaven

David Young and Unknown Man, Newhaven

This double portrait by the painter David OctaviusHill and the early photographer Robert Adamson is one of some 130 images they would make of the inhabitants of Newhaven and other small fishing villages near Ed... more

[Officer of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders Reading to the Troops, Edinburgh Castle]

[Officer of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders Reading to the Troops, Edinbur...

On occasion Hill and Adamson ventured into full-blown genre, costuming and staging literary scenes reminiscent of popular tableaux vivants, but in other cases such as this, the artists found authentically engag... more

The Fairy Tree at Colinton

The Fairy Tree at Colinton

Although Hill was primarily a painter of land- and townscapes, he and Adamson made few photographs of those subjects. In several cases where they did, the choice of subject is understandable: their photograph o... more