This collection of photographs by (1802-1870) David Octavius Hill and other pioneers of photography was collated by Robert Ormes Dougan. Robert Dougan was born in 1904 in Ilford, Essex, England. He became a librarian holding posts as the city librarian in Perth, Scotland; deputy librarian at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland; and librarian at the Henry E Huntington Library, California. He died in California in 1999.
Landscape and portrait painter, David Octavius Hill was born in 1802. He is best known to history as a pioneer photographer. He was the first artist to apply the new invention of photography to portraiture, and many of the calotypes which he made of eminent figures are now a valued part of the national photographic archive. Hill had a studio on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland and was closely associated in his photographic work with Robert Adamson, of St Andrews, Scotland.
Hill and Adamson formed a partnership in somewhat odd circumstances. In May 1843, four hundred ministers - a third of the entire church - signed a Deed of Demission, resigning their livings and establishing the Free Church of Scotland. Hill announced the undertaking of a great commemorative painting of the event, to include all those present, which would be the basis of an engraving. As the many ministers would soon scatter throughout Scotland, it was Hill's friend, Sir David Brewster, who suggested a way to make the recording practical. Brewster introduced Hill to Adamson and overcame the artist's scepticism as to the value of photography. The two men soon entered into an enthusiastic partnership. In their photography, Hill and Adamson produced calotype negatives. These were made on sheets of writing paper treated with light sensitive chemicals. Exposure times could run into several minutes in sunlight. The cameras were necessarily bulky as enlarging was not possible. The negative, which had to be the size of the final print, was printed by contact in full sunlight on a hand coated salt paper. Each negative and print had its own character. The prints were typically purple to reddish brown in tone, emphasising broad masses of detail. The partnership was brought to an end by the sudden death of Adamson in 1848 although Hill continued to work as a photographer.
Hill died in 1870 and is buried in the Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh, where there is a bronze bust of him by his widow.