Sir David Brewster

1 portrait

Sir David Brewster, by David Octavius Hill, and  Robert Adamson, 1843 - NPG P6(10) - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Sir David Brewster

by David Octavius Hill, and Robert Adamson
calotype, 1843
7 5/8 in. x 5 7/8 in. (194 mm x 149 mm)
Given by an anonymous donor, 1973
Primary Collection
NPG P6(10)


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Sitterback to top

  • Sir David Brewster (1781-1868), Natural philosopher and academic administrator. Sitter associated with 17 portraits.

Artistsback to top

  • Robert Adamson (1821-1848), Pioneer photographer. Artist associated with 381 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.
  • David Octavius Hill (1802-1870), Landscape and portrait painter; pioneer photographer. Artist associated with 381 portraits, Sitter associated with 22 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The Scottish physicist Sir David Brewster was a founder member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1831) and a key figure in the early history of photography in Britain. Much of his own experimental work was devoted to optics - he invented the kaleidoscope and the lenticular stereoscope - and was the close correspondent of Fox Talbot, the inventor of the negative/positive process of photography. It was Brewster who persuaded Robert Adamson to make a career of calotype photography and who introduced him to the painter David Octavius Hill. Together the two men created some of the most enduring images in the history of photography. They photographed Brewster posed as if absorbed in his reading.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 21
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 75

Subjects & Themesback to top