David Octavius Hill

1802 - 1870

D.O. Hill
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

D.O. Hill

Pioneer of photography. Born in Perth, the son of a book-seller, Hill was educated at Perth Academy. He moved to Edinburgh in 1818 to work as a clerk with the publisher Blackwoods and train at the Trustee's Academy as an artist. He quickly became an accomplished portrait and landscape painter, who had published a series of lithographs by the age nineteen. He developed an interest in photography in the early 1840s. With his partner Robert Adamson (1821-48), Hill was responsible for as many as 3000 photographic images, many of which have become important historically. The pair were commissioned to record the founders of the Free Church following the Disruption (1843) and a photograph of the Linlithgow Railway is thought to be the first ever of a railway scene. After Adamson's death, Hill returned to painting.

In 1826, Hill was one of the founders of the Royal Scottish Academy, serving as its secretary until shortly before his death. He was also a founder of the National Gallery of Scotland. Hill married twice, his second wife was the sculptress Amelia Paton (1820 - 1904).

He died at his home in the Newington district of Edinburgh and is buried in Dean Cemetery.

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