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Hill & Adamson
Elizabeth Rigby [Lady Eastlake]
Salted paper print, from calotype negative
20.8 × 14.3 cm (8 3/16 × 5 5/8 in.)
J. Paul Getty Museum
Object Number: 84.XM.445.21
Curatorial description (Acccessed: 25 February 2017)
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.