by David Octavius Hill, and Robert Adamson
7 7/8in. x 5 7/8in. (200 mm x 148 mm)
Given by Scottish National Portrait Gallery: Edinburgh: UK, 1970
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This portraitback to top
Produced during photography’s first decade, this picture was made using a calotype process, invented in England by William Henry Fox Talbot around 1839. Since it was not yet possible to adhere photographic chemistry to glass or plastic, a sensitised piece of writing paper was used as a negative. As a result the image is not very sharp, even though it is well-focused. The Scottish partnership of Hill and Adamson were among the first to recognise the expressive potential of this process. In this picture, the boy stares directly at the camera, which would have seemed new and strange to him.
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- A Century of Photography, 1840-1940 (17 October 2016 - 29 October 2017)
Events of 1840back to top
Current affairsVictoria marries her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; he is given the title of Prince Consort.
The Penny Black stamp is introduced by Rowland Hill; the first pre-paid, self-adhesive stamp, it marks the start of the modern postal system.
The start of the Irish potato famine, which by the time of its peak in 1851, had caused the deaths of one million, and contributed to the sharp rise of emigration from Ireland to England and America.
Art and scienceBeau Brummel, the fashion leader responsible for sparking the culture of 'Dandyism', dies of syphilis.
The first stone is laid on the new Houses of Parliament, based on the gothic designs by the architects Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin. The old buildings had burned down in 1834, following a blaze caused by burning wooden tallies used by the Exchequer to calculate tax.
InternationalThe Afghans surrender to Britain during the Afghan-British war (1839-42). The war was sparked by British fear over Russian influence in Afghanistan, with the British East India Company resolving to depose the Afghan leader, Dost Muhammad, who was insistent on Afghan independence, and restore the former leader Shoja Shah.
The Maoris yield sovereignty of New Zealand under the Treaty of Waitangi.
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