At Auchmithie (1881)
About this artwork
Some twenty miles north-east of Dundee, Auchmithie was known to Victorian readers as the fishing village described by Sir Walter Scott in his novel, The Antiquary. Cox's photographs of the place expose a hard life, close to subsistence, in the vein of Hill and Adamson's Newhaven work. This image indicates Cox's concern with the visual possibilities of photographic 'distortion', seen in the movement of the boy's head. It also reflects a wider European interest amongst late nineteenth-century urban artists in remote communities and the values of naturalness and simplicity that they stood for.
James Cox was the eldest child of a wealthy jute manufacturing family. He was an amateur painter and photographer. In 1880 he helped set up the Dundee and East of Scotland Photographic Association and was its first president. An exhibitor at the Royal Scottish Academy from 1884-6, Cox was a member of the consultative committee for the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1888. His best work is a series of photographs taken in the 1880s of the fishing villages of West Haven and Auchmithie. According to one contemporary, Cox owned the best equipped amateur studio he had ever seen.