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Sir John Steell, 1804 - 1891. Sculptor

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Sir John Steell, 1804 - 1891. Sculptor About 1845

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
One of Hill and Adamson's most effective portraits is that of the sculptor Sir John Steell, who is best known for his statue of Sir Walter Scott for the Scott Monument in Edinburgh. This portrait of Steell is remarkable for its strength and simplicity and could serve as a model of Romantic practice in photography. The body of the sculptor appears as a dark, undefined shape. His right hand, indicated by an edge of white cuff, is sunk in his coat, suggesting depth. His head and other hand are supported on an off-centre diagonal. The vague, mottled background reinforces the 'romantic' effect. This image is one of several calotype prints from the same negative and was gifted by the Edinburgh Photographic Society.

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.


Specifically a transparent material on which the tones and colours of a photograph are in reverse, from which a print is made. The term 'negative space' refers to the area around an object.


Refers to artworks that emphasise drama and emotion.

Calotype, Negative, Romantic


  • Acc. No. PGP EPS 89
  • Medium Calotype print
  • Size 19.70 x 14.50 cm
  • Credit Edinburgh Photographic Society Collection, gifted 1987