Hello, my name is Anne Lyden. I’m the international photography curator at the National Galleries of Scotland and I’d like to welcome you to A Perfect Chemistry: Photographs by Hill & Adamson.
Who were Hill & Adamson? That’s the starting point for our exhibition. They were two men who entered into a photographic partnership in 1843 and in a short space of four and a half years, forever changed the history of photography.
Their portraits are on the wall in front of you. Hill is standing against a doorway holding his top hat in one of his hands. And beside him is a portrait of the younger Robert Adamson, who was 20 years Hill’s junior. Hill was already an established artist, living in Edinburgh and he was secretary at the Royal Scottish Academy so he also knew a tremendous amount of artists, literary and scientific people around Edinburgh. On the other hand, Adamson was a young twenty-two year old man who had just come from Fife, his family lived out in Burnside, near St Andrews, and he was setting up his own photographic studio on Calton Hill. So the two men had very different life experiences but they came together in this very dynamic partnership, the particular chemistry of which is something of a mystery, even today.