Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Portrait of William Etty R.A.

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Edinburgh (photographed)

  • Date:

    1844 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Adamson, Robert, born 1821 - died 1848 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Transferred from the British Museum

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 761, box A

Physical description

Profile of William Etty R.A. sitting on a chair, holding a palette and paintbrushes.

Place of Origin

Edinburgh (photographed)


1844 (photographed)


Adamson, Robert, born 1821 - died 1848 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 20.8 cm, Width: 15.9 cm

Object history note

This photograph was acquired by the British Museum in 1857 than transferred in 2000 as plan to rationalise the collection and house objects at the V&A where greater expertise and national collections of particular media reside.

Historical context note

The famous partnership and collaboration between the artist David Octavius Hill and the photographer Robert Adamson came into being originally in order to produce photographic portraits to assist Hill as a painter. The team produced a wide range of superb, valuable work and they were the first consistently and successfully employ calotype process in Great Britain.

1843 Hill was introduced to Adamson and they began to collaborate on the production of calotype portraits as reference images for the painting ‘The Signing of the Deed of Demission’ which represents 474 dignitaries. Essentially, Hill posed and arranged the individual sitters or groups while Adamson attended to the technical aspects of the exposure, processing, and printing.

Some of their most powerful images, however, were made in Scottish seashore villages and depict fishermen and women. They also photographed the architecture and monument of Scotland and made calotypes of their friends posed in medieval armour or costumes.

Descriptive line

'Portrait of William Etty R.A.', calotype by David Octavius Hill (1802-70) and Robert Adamson (1821-48), Edinburgh, 1844.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Stevenson, Sara. David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson: catalogue of their calotypes taken between 1843 and 1847 in the collection of the Scottish national Portrait Gallery . Edinburg: National Galleries of Scotland, 1981. 220 p., ill. ISBN 0903148374

Production Note

William Etty visited Edinburgh on 16 and 17 October 1844.



Subjects depicted

Palette (color range); Paint brush


Photographs; Portraits; Scotland


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.