About this artwork

An Edinburgh obstetrician, Sir James Young Simpson is famous for his discovery of the use of chloroform as an anaesthetic during surgery and childbirth. In 1847, whilst searching for a substitute for ether, known to have several disadvantages, Simpson and his assistants tried inhaling a sample of chloroform. Their immediate collapse and unconsciousness convinced them of the effectiveness of the substance as a sedative and painkiller, and within a week it had been successfully used during surgery.

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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.