This calotype is a sensitive portrait of Hill’s niece, Patricia Morris, taken before her marriage to Mr Orr. She died only years later after an operation by Professor James Syme in 1852. Although she benefited from the discovery of chloroform as an anaesthetic, surgeons did not yet understand the importance of antiseptic conditions and the operation was conducted in her own bedroom. Hill wrote a long and moving account of the operation, and the sad outcome alters our view of the calotype. In hindsight, her contemplative look gives an impression of vulnerability and the flowering plant in the picture could be read as a symbol for mortality. It is possible that Hill too read more in the image than he may have done in the first instance.