National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of A Newhaven Fisherwoman David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson
David Octavius Hill (artist)
Scottish, 1802 - 1870
Robert Adamson (artist)
Scottish, 1821 - 1848
A Newhaven Fisherwoman, 1844
salted paper print from paper negative
sheet: 19.5 x 14.4 cm (7 11/16 x 5 11/16 in.) mount: 37.8 x 30.1 cm (14 7/8 x 11 7/8 in.)
Millennium Funds
Not on View
From the Tour: Selected Photographs from the Collection
Object 2 of 15

In 1843 the Scottish artist David Octavius Hill embarked on a large commemorative painting of the 400 ministers present at the founding of the Free Church of Scotland. To capture likenesses of all these people, he formed a partnership with a young scientist, Robert Adamson, and learned how to make photographs. Although the medium had been invented only four years earlier, Adamson's technical skills and Hill's great inventiveness enabled them to create sensitive and highly skillful photographs of Edinburgh's leading citizens. Their simple but often bold compositions made intelligent use of the paper negative process, with its overall softness and suppression of detail. This and the subtle blurring of forms caused by the slight movement of figures during the 20- or 30-second exposures give a relaxed spontaneity to their photographs.

Entranced by the seemingly boundless potential of photography, Hill and Adamson in 1844 announced their intention to produce six albums detailing all aspects of Scottish life. The first, Fishermen and Women of Firth of Forth, included photographs made primarily in Newhaven, a small village outside Edinburgh. Hill's and Adamson's photographs celebrate the simple, yet often heroic lives of their subjects. A Newhaven Fisherwoman is further distinguished by its sense of immediacy and the strong, forthright pose of the woman, who directly and confidently meets the viewer's gaze, staring back at us across the span of more than 150 years.

Full Screen Image
Artist Information (David Octavius Hill)
Artist Information (Robert Adamson)

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