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David Octavius Hill


David Octavius Hill
(1802—1870)

Painter and photographer

A painter who moved into the new field of photography. Hill, with his partner Robert Adamson, was a pioneer of the new medium, using it for portrait work as well as
recording landscapes, buildings and scenes around Edinburgh.

The Personal Art of David Octavius Hill David Octavius Hill (1802-70) was a pioneer photographer, a painter and lithographer. In 1843, he entered into partnership with the young photographer, Robert Adamson, and in the next four years they took an extraordinary body of work, which has influenced the art practice of photography ever since. The originality and inventiveness of the work has fascinated photographers and historians for 150 years. The invention of photography signalled the origins of modernity, but was connected to the concerns of its own time, many of which have since become mysterious or confused. This text is designed to present new research, firstly analyzing the photographic partnership and offering an understanding of its remarkable success; secondly, to explain the purpose and intelligence of this familiar work in the context of Hill's life of 68 years. He lived at a time when Scotland was driven by an astonishing energy and urge for exploration and improvement, coupled by a newly-confident nationalism, based on religious dynamism and literary fame. Hill, himself a kind and empathetic man, was an active force in his own world, an enthusiast driven by a strong social impulse as well as a desire to improve the arts, which made his actions and thinking generous and democratic.

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