Robert Adamson & David Octavius Hill

James Nasmyth, 1808 - 1890. Engineer; inventor of the steam hammer [a]

About this artwork

This is one of a number of calotypes showing James Nasmyth, the son of the painter Alexander Nasmyth and a close friend of David Octavius Hill, in a reflective mood. He was an engineer and invented the steam hammer and pile driver, which revolutionised industry and engineering work across the world. He took a keen interest in photography as he considered it ’a delightful means of educating the eye for artistic feeling, as well as educating the hands in delicate manipulation’.

see media

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.