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Robert Adamson, 1821 - 1848. Calotypist

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Robert Adamson, 1821 - 1848. Calotypist About 1843

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
This very early calotype by John Adamson shows his younger brother, the photographer Robert Adamson. Despite both being pioneering photographers, Robert became the more famous of the two due to his partnership with the painter David Octavius Hill. Having been taught the calotype process by his brother, in 1843 Robert opened his own photographic studio on Calton Hill in Edinburgh. Shortly afterwards he met Hill and their successful working relationship led to a period of close collaboration, during which they produced an impressive body of work that greatly influenced later practice in photography. This photograph shows the artistic influence of Sir Henry Raeburn in the use of light and shadow, focusing attention on the head and hand of the sitter.

Glossary Open


The first effective version of photography, using drawing or writing paper for both the negative and the positive. The paper was sensitised with potassium iodide and silver nitrate, exposed and developed in gallic acid and silver nitrate.



  • Acc. No. PGP HA 13
  • Medium Calotype print
  • Size 9.50 x 9.20 cm
  • Credit Purchased from the estate of Sophia Finlay (Charles Finlay's Trust), 1937