Dr. Alexander Monro

Dr. Alexander Monro

1844, Print Date: 1905
Robert Adamson, Scottish, 1821-1848
Born: St. Andrews, Scotland
Work Locations: Edinburgh, Scotland
David Octavius Hill, Scottish, 1802-1848
Born: Perth, Scotland
Work Locations: Edinburgh, Scotland
James Craig Annan, British, Scottish, 1864-1946
Born: Hamilton, Scotland
photograph, photomechanical print
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of Joyce and Ted Strauss
Robert Adamson (Scottish), David Octavius Hill (Scottish). Dr. Alexander Monro. 1844. Photogravure. Gift of Joyce and Ted Strauss. 1981.163.
image height: 8.125 in, 20.6375 cm; image width: 6 in, 15.2400 cm; sheet height: 10.125 in, 25.7175 cm; sheet width: 7.25 in, 18.4150 cm; mat height: 14 in, 35.5600 cm; mat width: 11 in, 27.9400 cm

David Octavius Hill was commissioned to paint a panoramic group portrait of the 450-member Disruption Assembly of 1843 that led to the founding of the Free Church of Scotland. To make preliminary studies of each of the “Disruption Worthies,” he collaborated with Edinburgh photographer Robert Adamson on a series of individual portraits.

Years before there were glass or film negatives, Hill and Adamson used a technique known as calotype—the first process that allowed multiple copies from a single photographic original. Calotypes often have a rough appearance because the uneven texture of the paper used as the negative blocked fine detail and left shadows in the prints. Calotype’s inventor, William Henry Fox Talbot, described Adamson’s use of the effect as “Rembrandtish.”

Hill and Adamson calotype prints are extremely rare; this later photogravure reproduction—an ink-on-paper aquatint made by copying an early print onto a copper printing plate—was created by James Craig Annan for the journal Camera Work in 1905.

Exhibition History
  • "Photography & Vision: The Influence of Joyce and Ted Strauss"—Denver Art Museum, 6/8/2014 - 1/25/2015