The J. Paul Getty Museum

Elizabeth Rigby [Lady Eastlake]

Object Details


Elizabeth Rigby [Lady Eastlake]


Hill & Adamson (Scottish, active 1843 - 1848)




Scotland (Place Created)




Salted paper print from a paper negative

Object Number:



20.8 × 14.3 cm (8 3/16 × 5 5/8 in.)

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Object Description

David Hill and Robert Adamson often photographed Elizabeth Rigby, later Lady Eastlake, along with her mother and sister while the three women were living in Edinburgh. In 1849 Elizabeth married Sir Charles Eastlake, president of the Royal Academy, Director of the National Gallery, and first President of the Royal Photographic Society. She became an author and critic, and in 1857 she published a groundbreaking article, "Photography," one of the first histories of the medium that also championed photography as a fine art. Eastlake wrote: "It is now more than fifteen years ago that specimens of a new and mysterious art were first exhibited to our wondering gaze...we examined them with the keenest admiration, and felt that the spirit of Rembrandt had revived."

Lady Eastlake is shown here seated in a doorway, which provides a frame for the contrast between the darkness inside and the outdoor light into which the sitter faces. Her eyes are cast downward and appear almost melancholy, but the lyrical gesture may not have a poetic intent. Eastlake probably averted her eyes from the camera because the exposure time for the photograph would have been up to thirty seconds, too long for her eyes to remain focused.


Samuel Wagstaff, Jr., American, 1921 - 1987, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

In Focus: Making a Scene (June 30 to October 18, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 30 to October 18, 2009
The Thrill of the Chase: The Wagstaff Collection of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum (March 15, 2016 to May 7, 2017)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 15 to July 31, 2016
  • Wadsworth Atheneum (Hartford), September 10 to December 11, 2016
  • Portland Museum of Art (Portland), February 13 to May 7, 2017

Ford, Colin, ed. and Roy Strong. An Early Victorian Album: The Photographic Masterpieces (1843-1847) of David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson (New York: Knopf, 1976), p. 119.

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Photographs (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), p. 13.