Having learned to make photographs directly from William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of the calotype process, the eminent scientist Sir David Brewster brought photography to Scotland in the early 1840s, making the country one of the early experimental centers for the new art. In a July 3, 1843, letter to Talbot, Brewster wrote:
I got hold of the artist [David Octavius Hill] –showed him the Calotype, & the eminent advantage he might derive from it in getting likenesses of all the principal characters before they were dispersed to their respective homes. He was at first incredulous, but went to Mr. [Robert] Adamson, and arranged with him preliminaries for getting all the necessary portraits.
Seeing the opportunity for photography to assist in the process of making preliminary studies for painting, Brewster introduced Hill to Adamson, who had recently opened a photographic studio in Edinburgh. Brewster himself was a member of the newly formed Free Church of Scotland. Using this calotype as a model, Hill included Brewster's portrait in The Disruption Picture.