[Miss Elizabeth Rigby]

Object Details


[Miss Elizabeth Rigby]


Hill & Adamson (Scottish, active 1843 - 1848)




Salted paper print from a paper negative

Object Number:



21 × 15.9 cm (8 1/4 × 6 1/4 in.)

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Photography made but slow way in England; and the first knowledge to many even of her existence came back to us from across the Border. It was in Edinburgh where the first earnest, professional practice of the art began, and the calotypes of Messrs. Hill and Adamson remain to this day the most picturesque specimens of the new discovery.

So wrote Elizabeth Rigby of the photographers in 1857. Rigby became a popular sitter for David Hill and Robert Adamson, appearing in more than twenty of their calotypes. In this image she seems lost in thought. Although leaning forward, she does not engage the viewer. The common motif of books alludes to her intellectual abilities.

Rigby lived in Edinburgh during the 1840s, where she was welcomed into distinguished literary and social circles. Critical of the disruption within the Church of Scotland, she described how she left one of its assemblies "thoroughly disgusted" over the "horrible display of vulgarities." Upon marrying Sir Charles Eastlake in 1849, she assumed the title Lady Eastlake but retained her connection to photography since he became the first president of the Royal Photographic Society in London in 1853.


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

The Flower Show: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum Selected by Sam Wagstaff (April 13, 1985 to January 11, 1986)
  • The Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit), April 13 to June 16, 1985
  • The Parrish Art Museum (Southampton), November 17, 1985 to January 11, 1986
Light in the Darkness: The Photographs of Hill and Adamson (July 20 to October 22, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 20 to October 10, 1999