About this artwork

The identity of the smartly dressed tennis player in this staged scene is uncertain and yet this calotype has become a popular picture postcard. Hill and Adamson are best remembered for the subtlety and perceptiveness of their photographic portraits but at times they showed a keenness for the representation of movement. Here movement is easy to detect in the blur of the racket and the man's forearm. The player's intense gaze furthermore suggests that a tennis ball just just gone out of the picture frame.

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Robert Adamson

David Octavius Hill

Robert Adamson

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.