About this artwork

This small oil portrait was probably painted in 1843 when David Octavius Hill started work on his huge painting of the Disruption of the Church of Scotland. The immense labour involved in recording the several hundred ministers and elders involved in the Disruption prompted the scientist Sir David Brewster to suggest to Hill that he should use photography rather than the pen or brush to capture the likenesses of the men before they left Edinburgh to return to their parishes. While Hill initially was sceptical, he quickly came to realise the potential of photography, not just as an aid to painting, but as an art form in its own right.

  • title:
    Minister (unidentified)
  • accession number:
    PG 2714
  • artist:
    David Octavius Hill (1802 - 1870)
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • subject:
  • materials:
    Oil on millboard
  • date created:
    19th century
  • measurements:
    Irregular: 18.40 x 14.90 cm (framed: 28.00 x 24.20 x 5.00 cm)
  • credit line:
    Given by Miss Aileen Graham 1987

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.