Robert Adamson & David Octavius Hill

Mrs Isabella (Burns) Begg, 1771 - 1858. Youngest sister of Robert Burns [b]

About this artwork

Isabella Burns Begg was the youngest sister of the poet, Robert Burns. There was a striking resemblance between the two. Robert Burns died before photography was established but through this vivid portrait of his sister, we get an idea of how he might have looked in old age. Isabella was widowed young and raised nine children single-handed. In later years, she was given a picturesque cottage where she lived almost as a monument to her brother, entertaining hoards of visitors from the United Kingdom, the Continent and America.

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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.