The Newhaven Fishwife

Presented by Dr Dana MacFarlane, Honorary Fellow, University of Edinburgh

David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson’s photograph of Mrs. Elizabeth Johnstone Hall, also known as ‘The Newhaven fishwife’ and ‘A Newhaven beauty’, remains an iconic image within the national collection and occupies a significant position within the history of photography.  It is also an important social document, recording the appearance of members of the fishing community at a moment when their way of life was threatened by increasing industrialization and modernisation.  Dr MacFarlane aims to re-evaluate the image in the context of later interpretation, returning in particular to its significance for the German writer and critic Walter Benjamin, who makes ‘The Newhaven fishwife’ central to his particular philosophical discussion of photography.

Dr Dana MacFarlane received her MA in the History of Art from the University of Toronto and her PhD ‘Walter Benjamin and the History of Art’ was awarded by the University of Essex in 2000. She is currently an Honorary Fellow in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Edinburgh.

David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson’s photograph of Mrs. Elizabeth Johnstone Hall, also known as ‘The Newhaven fishwife’ and ‘A Newhaven beauty’, remains an iconic image within the national collection and occupies a significant position within the history of photography. Dr Dana MacFarlane aims to re-evaluate the image in the context of later interpretation, returning in particular to its significance for the German writer and critic Walter Benjamin.

[Duration 20:23]