Sep 11, 2007

James Nasmyth (1808-1890)

James Nasmyth (1808-1890)


David Octavius Hill

(British, 1802-1870)

and Robert Adamson

(British, 1821-1848)

Salted paper print from calotype negative

Image: 19.7 x 14.6 cm (7 3/4 x 5 3/4 in.); Matted: 45.7 x 35.6 cm (18 x 14 in.)

Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1987.19



Among the earliest photographers to explore both the artistic and societal possibilities of the portrait were the painter David Octavius Hill and engineer Robert Adamson, partners for just three years before Adamson’s death. Elizabeth Rigby,seen here at age 35, went on to marry Sir Charles Eastlake and, in 1857, to write one of the first histories of photography as a fine art. James Nasmyth, an engineer who developed the steam hammer, holds a compass. Hill and Adamson often shot outdoors because bright sunlight allowed shorter exposure times. They subordinated the background in shadow and bathed the important details of the face and finery in areas of light.

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