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David Octavius Hill, Scottish, (1802–May 17, 1870)
Robert Adamson, British, (1821–1848)
John Henning, c. 1845
Salted paper print
6 in. x 8 1/8 in. (15.24 cm x 20.6 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Credit Line: Gift of C. Jane Hurley Wilson '64 and Michael G. Wilson, Wilson Centre for Photography, London, UK
Accession Number: 2008.4.20

In 1843, painter David Octavius Hill joined engineer Robert Adamson to form Scotland’s first photography studio. Using newly invented photographic processes, the team produced many portraits, local landscapes and urban scenes. Within their four years of working together, Hill and Adamson generated over three thousand prints. In 1848, Adamson’s unexpected death brought an end to the partnership. Hill and Adamson’s portraits of men and women from the fishing villages of Newhaven are among the earliest examples of social documentation as an art form. The photograph, John Hennings and Mrs. Cleghorn as Edie Ochiltree and Miss Wardour from Sir Walter Scott’s “The Antiquary” clearly exhibits Hill and Adamson’s subject matter common to their early work. This work is a salt print of a man standing in front of a woman in a window. Salt printing is an important photographic process created by British photographer William Talbot that was heavily used from 1839 to 1860 to produce positive prints. To create a salt print, sheets of paper are first coated with silver salts, but what makes this process unique is the extra accelerator step added immediately before exposure of the salt sensitized paper. This step gives prints characteristically bright white highlights. This piece in particular utilizes the white highlights to draw the viewer’s gaze into the central focus of the piece, the old man and the woman. Hill and Adamson revolutionized photography by using it to create portrait sketches similar to this work. After first seeing a photograph by Hill and Adamson in 1843, watercolorist John Harden described the photo as reminiscent of the works of the old masters of painting. This painter-photographer team produced the first substantial body of “self-consciously” artistic work using the newly invented medium of photography. Hill and Adamson’s reimagined use of photography continues to influence our current concept of photography. Shaina Raskin ’15 Wilson Intern 2013

Object Description
Old man wearing a wide brimmed hat holding a long pole, a woman is behind a barred window near him. Unmounted.

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