St Andrews, North Street, Fishergate, Women and Children Baiting the Line (About 1845)
About this artwork
Around 1845 Hill and Adamson took a camera across the Firth of Forth to St Andrews, where they photographed the buildings in the harbour and the Fishergate. The width of North Street enabled them to capture a large and spread-out group of the fishwives and children, working outside their own houses. The high viewpoint indicates that the photograph was taken from one of the stairs opposite the women. The composition is impressive, with all individual figures appearing sharp and distinct. Most remarkably, the scene is given life by the central figure who is apparently striding across the street with a child on her arm. In reality, she would have had to stand motionless for at least a full minute in order not to appear blurred.
- title: St Andrews, North Street, Fishergate, Women and Children Baiting the Line
- accession number: PGP HA 299
- artists: Robert AdamsonScottish (1821 - 1848) David Octavius HillScottish (1802 - 1870)
- gallery: Scottish National Portrait Gallery(Print Room)
- object type: Photograph
- subject: Fishing industry
- materials: Calotype print
- date created: About 1845
- measurements: 14.00 x 19.30 cm
- credit line: Provenance unknown
David Octavius Hill
Robert Adamson was one of the first professional photographers, setting up in business in Edinburgh in March 1843. He had aspired to be an engineer but his health was too poor. His brother, John, who was involved in the early experiments with photography in St Andrews, taught him the calotype process. Shortly after opening his studio on Calton Hill, Robert met the painter David Octavius Hill. They worked together for a few weeks on studies for a grand painting of the Free Church of Scotland before entering into partnership to explore the possibilities of photography. Despite Adamson's early death, the two produced some of the most impressive works taken in the medium and greatly influenced later practice in the art.
David Octavius Hill
A painter and a lithographer by training, David Octavius Hill is best remembered for the beauty of the calotypes he and Robert Adamson produced together. Hill was a sociable and kind-hearted man who did much to support the arts in Scotland and between 1830 and 1836 he was the unpaid Secretary of the newly established Royal Scottish Academy. After Adamson's death, Hill's attempt to start a new partnership with the photographer Alexander MacGlashan around 1860 failed. Hill is to this day revered as one of the first in the trade who transformed photography into an art form.