About this artwork

Mrs Barbara Flucker was a fishwife of Newhaven, then an independent fishing village to the north of Edinburgh where Hill and Adamson took some 120 calotypes. Hill had a great affection of women as independent individuals, something which is demonstrated by the large number of calotypes of women he took and the dignity they convey. He admired the Newhaven fishwives for their strong and heroic character, their hardworking nature and the way in which they coped with the dangerous conditions their husbands faced every day. Whilst the men were out at sea the women prepared the fish and carried them into town in baskets like the one in the photograph. Here, Mrs Barbara Flucker is opening oysters, the contents of which were sold on the street as a kind of snack food.

Robert Adamson

David Octavius Hill

Robert Adamson

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.