About this artwork

This calotype by Hill and Adamson shows the painter George Harvey. Born in Stirlingshire and educated in Edinburgh, Harvey specialised in scenes inspired by Scottish history. Later in life he became a highly-skilled landscape painter, but many works from this period are now lost. Harvey was one of the original associates of the Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (later the Royal Scottish Academy) and contributed seven works to its first ever exhibition in 1827. Throughout his life he remained devoted to the interests of the Academy; he served first as its treasurer and from 1864 onwards as its president. Harvey knew David Octavius Hill well, as the latter was secretary of the Academy from 1830 until his death in 1870.

David Octavius Hill

Robert Adamson

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.

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.