David Octavius Hill

The First General Assembly of The Free Church of Scotland, Signing the Act of Separation and Deed of Demission at Tanfield, Edinburgh 23 May, 1843

About this artwork

This is a study for Hill’s oil painting of the same subject. It shows a scene from the Disruption of 1843. In this sketch Dr. Chalmers is preaching to a group of ministers, but the finished painting shows him signing the Act of Separation. Hill used calotypes along with pen and ink studies in the planning of the painting. He originally intended to work on the painting for three years, but by 1846, the painting had doubled in size. In the end, it took Hill twenty-three years to finish and it dominated the rest of his life. The painting now hangs in the offices of the Free Church of Scotland on the Mound.

David Octavius Hill

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.