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Samuel Aitken. Bookseller and friend of Thomas Carlyle

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Samuel Aitken. Bookseller and friend of Thomas Carlyle About 1843

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
Samuel Aitken was a bookseller with the well-known Edinburgh firm of Bell & Bradfute. He was also the Dean of Guild, a non-elected member of the city council, and a friend of historian and essayist Thomas Carlyle. This calotype was produced by the famous partnership of David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. Despite the novelty of the photographic medium, the composition and painterly effect of the image is reminiscent of traditional portraits by Scottish painter Henry Raeburn.

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.


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

Medium/ media

The material from which an artwork is made, e.g. oil paint, bronze, paper. 'Medium' is also used for the liquid element of paint in which a colouring agent is carried. 'Mixed media' is used when an artist combines several different materials in an artwork.

Calotype, Composition, Medium/ media


  • Acc. No. PGP HA 25
  • Medium Later calotype
  • Size 11.00 x 15.20 cm
  • Credit Elliot Collection, bequeathed 1950