About this artwork

Thomas Rodger senior, the figure on the left, was a house painter by trade. He nevertheless wholeheartedly supported his son in his photographic work. Father and son lived in Fife and were very close. The antics in this picture may have been inspired by David Wilkie's painting, 'The Blind Fiddler' (1806), where a boy pretends he is a fiddler with bellows and a poker. Legend has it that the violinist in this albumen print was Paganini himself, but the latter had died ten years earlier.

Thomas Rodger

Thomas Rodger

Thomas Rodger was a pupil and laboratory assistant to John Adamson. On the death of Robert Adamson, John Adamson urged the sixteen-year-old Rodger to set up his own studio in the city. He had a precise approach to the chemistry of photography which earned him success at exhibitions and competitions around Scotland. Having begun as a 'calotypist' in 1848, he later moved on to the collodion process. Sadly, his glass negatives were smashed when, after his death, his studio closed down in the early 1900s.