David Octavius Hill (British, Perth, Scotland 1802–1870 Edinburgh, Scotland)
Robert Adamson (British, St. Andrews, Scotland 1821–1848 St. Andrews, Scotland)
Salted paper print from paper negative
16.1 x 11.9 cm (6 5/16 x 4 11/16 in.)
The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund and Warner Communication Inc. Purchase Fund, by exchange, 1997
Not on view
In 1843, four hundred ministers of the Church of Scotland met in Edinburgh to sign the Deed of Demission, resigning their positions and privileges in order to establish the Free Church of Scotland. Inspired by the event, the painter Hill determined to create a large commemorative painting portraying everyone present at the signing. Realizing that the ministers would soon leave Edinburgh to return to their parishes throughout Scotland, Hill sought the aid of a local photographer, Robert Adamson, to create individual photographs of the ministers that could serve later as guides for the portraits in the painting. The dramatically lit and psychologically engaging portraits that this painter-and-photographer team produced far outshone Hill's enormous, tedious painting, in which the accumulation of faces diminished the power of each.
Inscription: Subject identified in pencil and RSA stamp on mount
From a set of presentation albums assembled and given by David Octavius Hill to the Royal Scottish Academy (1852); deaccessioned by the Royal Scottish Academy (1977); [Thackrey & Robertson, San Francisco]; John Rubel, San Francisco; William Rubel, Santa Cruz, California; [Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Fine Photographs, New York]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Beyond the Edges: An Insider's Look at Early Photographs," October 9, 1998–February 14, 1999.
Daniel, Malcolm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin: Inventing a New Art: Early Photographs from the Rubel Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art 56, no. 4 (Spring 1999). p. 48.