Spencer Compton, 2nd Marquis of Northampton, 1790 - 1851. President of the Royal Society [c]
About this artwork
Lord Northampton was a man of importance in science and art, serving as president of the Royal Society and as a trustee of the British Museum. Adamson and Hill photographed at the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in York. Hill wrote of the photograph that they had made a ‘singularly Rembrandtish & very fine study’.
- title: Spencer Compton, 2nd Marquis of Northampton, 1790 - 1851. President of the Royal Society [c]
- accession number: PGP HA 1743
- artists: Robert AdamsonScottish (1821 - 1848) David Octavius HillScottish (1802 - 1870)
- gallery: Scottish National Portrait Gallery(Print Room)
- object type: Photograph
- subject: Aristocracy
- materials: Calotype negative
- date created: 1843 - 1847
- measurements: 21.40 x 15.70 cm
- credit line: Elliot Collection, bequeathed 1950
David Octavius Hill
Robert Adamson was one of the first professional photographers, setting up in business in Edinburgh in March 1843. He had aspired to be an engineer but his health was too poor. His brother, John, who was involved in the early experiments with photography in St Andrews, taught him the calotype process. Shortly after opening his studio on Calton Hill, Robert met the painter David Octavius Hill. They worked together for a few weeks on studies for a grand painting of the Free Church of Scotland before entering into partnership to explore the possibilities of photography. Despite Adamson's early death, the two produced some of the most impressive works taken in the medium and greatly influenced later practice in the art.
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.