David Octavius Hill (Scottish, 18021870); Robert Adamson (Scottish, 18211848)
Salted paper print from paper negative; 7 13/16 x 5 7/8 in. (19.9 x 15 cm)
The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Manfred Heiting and Lila Acheson Wallace Gifts, 1997 (1997.382.18)
The vast majority of Hill and Adamson photographs show the ministers of the Free Church, notable residents of Edinburgh and distinguished visitors, or the hardy fisherfolk of Newhaven and Saint Andrews. On occasion, particularly in their portraits of the ministerssober and all dressed alikeHill and Adamson fell into formulaic patterns based on academic portrait painting. But there is no doubt that they were among the medium's most gifted portraitists, and one need only look at works such as this mysterious portrait of Lady Ruthvenreminiscent of Victorian fashion platesto understand that Hill and Adamson possessed not only a profound human sensitivity but also a creative and sophisticated formal sensibility.