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Photograph - Mr Lane in Indian Dress
  • Mr Lane in Indian Dress
    Hill, David Octavius, born 1802 - died 1870
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Mr Lane in Indian Dress

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Date:

    1843-1847 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hill, David Octavius, born 1802 - died 1870 (photographer)
    Adamson, Robert, born 1821 - died 1848 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Calotype

  • Museum number:

    3127-1955

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case EDUC, shelf 13

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This image was the product of the renowned partnership of the painter David Octavius Hill and the chemist Robert Adamson. Hill’s artistic direction can be seen in the clever use of light, which highlights the subject against a dark background, and in the elegant composition. Hill and Adamson used the ‘calotype’ or ‘talbotype’ process, invented by William Henry Fox Talbot in 1840 and patented by him in 1841. Calotypes were made by treating sheets of normal writing paper with chemicals to make them highly sensitive to light. The sensitised sheets could be used damp in the camera, where an exposure ranging from ten seconds to over half an hour was necessary, depending on the weather, time of day, intensity of the chemicals employed, and subject. This created paper negatives, which were waxed to give them translucency. They could then be used to make multiple positive prints by placing them in direct contact with a second piece of light-sensitive paper and leaving both in sunlight. Since paper was used for both negatives and prints, its fibres softened the images and enhanced a painterly effect.

It is not known whether the Mr Lane shown is the Edinburgh actor of this name or the explorer Edward William Lane (1801-1876). His Indian costume might by explained by either identity: the explorer may have collected such clothes on his travels or the actor may have been dressed for a theatrical role. Mr Lane is posed in the open air since interiors were not light enough for a negative to be quickly produced in the 1840s. The setting of the portrait, however, does not acknowledge the open-air location and is arranged to look like an interior scene.

Physical description

Photograph of a man, full length, wearing Indian dress.

Date

1843-1847 (made)

Artist/maker

Hill, David Octavius, born 1802 - died 1870 (photographer)
Adamson, Robert, born 1821 - died 1848 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Calotype

Dimensions

Height: 18.5 cm, Width: 13.2 cm

Descriptive line

Photograph of a man, full length, wearing Indian dress

Techniques

Calotype

Subjects depicted

Fancy dress

Categories

Photographs

Collection code

PDP

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Qr_O90306
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