John Muir Wood

Monument in Glasgow Necropolis to John Henry Alexander, d. 1851, sculpted by Alexander Handyside Ritchie (About 1852)

About this artwork

This calotype by John Muir Wood was taken at Glasgow Necropolis and shows the monument to actor and theatre owner John Henry Alexander. Under the direction of Alexander, the Theatre Royal on Dunlop Street became Glasgow’s premier theatre. In 1849, however, the building caught fire during a show and sixty-five customers died. Alexander was said never to have recovered from the shock and died not long afterwards. This monument was designed by James Hamilton and carved by the well-known Scottish sculptor Handyside Ritchie. The front section represents a theatre stage with curtains and footlights. The figures on either side personify tragedy and comedy and the laurel wreath that is lowered onto the stage reminds the viewer of Alexander’s final curtain call.

John Muir Wood

John Muir Wood

John Muir Wood came from a family of Edinburgh piano makers and music publishers. He was sent abroad in 1826 to Paris and Vienna to study the piano. Returning to Edinburgh in 1828 as a music teacher, he entered the family business with his brother. His knowledge of photography may date from his friendship in the 1840s with the eye surgeon Dr Jasper MacAldin who shared his knowledge of optics and chemistry. Throughout his amateur career Wood produced many portraits as well as landscape photographs of the places he visited in Britain and on the Continent.