Thomas Chalmers, known for his radical views on social reform and poor-relief, was the leader of the evangelical party in the Church of Scotland. During the Disruption in 1843 he led the group of dissenting ministers, becoming the first Moderator of the Free Church. The emotion and excitement of the Disruption caused David Octavius Hill to start work on a large-scale painting commemorating the event, which he eventually finished twenty-three years later. Hill and his partner Robert Adamson took hundreds of the newly invented calotypes to create faithful likenesses of the 400 people in the painting. Although Chalmers's calotype was taken for this purpose, this particular pose only appears in an early design for the painting and does not feature in the finished work.