About this artwork

After the death of Robert Adamson, Hill abandoned photography and returned to painting. However around 1860 he entered a partnership with the photographer, Alexander MacGlashan, which may have lasted no more than a few days. Hill persuaded MacGlashan to work in the Rock House garden on Calton Hill, where this picture was taken. Burd Alane means 'only child'. Hill was particularly sensitive to this notion because he was a widower with an only daughter, Charlotte. She died giving birth to her only son in 1862.

David Octavius Hill

Alexander McGlashan

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.

Alexander McGlashan

Alexander MacGlashan began life as a printer, taking up photography in the 1850s. David Octavius Hill worked with him briefly around 1860. Their partnership was short-lived because their styles of work did not match well. MacGlashan was a studio photographer, who tended to clutter his portraits with furniture and other props. His uninspired technique could not translate Hill's artistic ideas into good enough photographs.