Calotypes by D. O. Hill and R. Adamson Illustrating an Early Stage in the Development of Photography Selected from his Collection by Andrew Elliot. With a preface by John M. Gray, ‘The Early History of Photography’.

Edinburgh, Printed for Private Circulation, 1928.

Large 4to (14½ x 11 inches, 36.8 x 27.9 cm), pp. [viii], 120, [2 blank] with 47 carbon-print photographs all but one portrait of Hill from the original calotypes by Hill & Adamson, printed circa 1879–1881 by Thomas Annan, image sizes varying from 5¾ x 4⅜ inches (14.6 x 11.1 cm) to 10½ x 7¼ inches (26.7 x 18.4 cm), each with printed caption in margin, numbered 19 of 38 copies, ownership inscription of James L. Caw of Edinkerry, Lasswade in pencil on front free endpaper, printed note personally addressed to Caw from Dr A Elliot dated May 1929 to front pastedown, full red cloth, gilt titling to spine (pp. 59-62 misnumbered as 51-54 but with text complete, 21 prints showing degrees of the ‘craquelure’ effect typical of the prints in this publication, some foxing to endpapers, small tear to front free endpaper, hinge cracked, spine and extremities a little bumped and faded); a good clean copy of a rare and important book which struggled slowly to publication.


US $18831€17555

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Calotypes by D. O. Hill and R. Adamson Illustrating an Early Stage in the Development of Photography Selected from his Collection by Andrew Elliot. With a preface by John M. Gray, ‘The Early History of Photography’.

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The first monograph on Hill & Adamson, fifty years in publication.

The history of this landmark publication is summarised in the foreword by the son (Dr Elliot) of the collector (Andrew Elliot) who originally conceived the book and commissioned the illustrations in preparation for publication in the last quarter of the nineteenth century: ‘By reason of his life-long interest in the history and development of Photography, my father had been, for many years, an enthusiastic collector of the “Calotypes” produced about the middle of the last century, by D. O. Hill and Robert Adamson. The artistic qualities of these pictures appealed to him strongly, and from his collection he had chosen a series of portraits which he considered to be of special merit or of special interest, with a view of issuing them in book-form, together with appropriate letterpress. At the time of his death this volume was almost ready for publication. Later, my brother, George H. Elliot, would have completed the work, but his long illness and subsequent death prevented him from carrying out his intention. Enquiry showed that the edition printed in my father’s life-time still existed in sheet-form, but that through lapse of time the condition of some of the printed matter had deteriorated. Sufficient material was available, however, to make the completion of a limited number of copies possible, and these are now issued in the hope that they may be of interest to those who were associated with my father in the preparation of the pages as well as to others who, like himself, have been attracted to the study of Photography in its early days’.

The introductory essay provides a historical context for Hill & Adamson’s work as well as a more detailed account of their range of subject matter and the characteristics of the calotype process. It concludes:‘When we examine a fine copy of such of the Calotypes as the portraits of Professor Munro, of Etty, or of the Rev. Brewster Craig, we can well believe that this, which is one of the very earliest of photographic processes, possesses certain artistic qualities that have not been surpassed by all the refinements of recent methods’.

The selection of sitters, each with informative biographical text, also includes Hill (by Thomas Annan, circa 1868), Adamson, Thomas Duncan RSA, Henning & Ritchie ARSA, Lady Ruthven (back view), the publisher John Murray, Lady Eastlake, David Roberts RA, Sir Willliam Allan PRSA and Sir Francis Grant PRA.

Sir James Lewis Caw (1864–1950), was a museum director, art historian and watercolour painter, who became curator of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 1895 and was appointed the first director of the National Galleries of Scotland and the SNPG in 1907. Originally from the west of Scotland he had studied engineering, science and art, attending evening classes at Glasgow School of Art and the Royal Scottish Academy School of Art and exhibiting at the Royal Scottish Academy between 1887 and 1922. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1896. ‘In his generation, Caw championed appreciation of Scottish art as an important expression of national identity. He was the first writer to document Scottish art in an intellectual and critical way and, above all, to celebrate it with pride rather than to apologize for it. His Scottish Painting, 1620–1908 (1908) and his publications on Sir Henry Raeburn (1901, 1909), William McTaggart (1917), Sir James Guthrie (1932), Allan Ramsay (1937), and Sir David Y. Cameron (1949) each became standard works of reference’ (Oxford DNB).

A full list of sitters is available on request.

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