|Dates: ||1809 - 1865|
A music publisher in London, Mackinlay was also a keen amateur scientist. When he married the daughter of the famous chemist Andrew Ure he gained both a devoted wife and a very useful father-in-law. Mackinlay purchased a camera directly from Daguerre, but, frustrated with the results, he turned to the eminent London optician and lens maker Andrew Ross for assistance. According to the Photographic Journal his first photographs were taken “at such an early date that, in an assembly of several highly educated persons, the general question asked was, what the productions were.” His friends remembered that Mackinlay was taking photographs even before the publication of Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature in 1844. While most paper-negative photographers concentrated on landscape and architecture, Photographic News observed that “some of the earliest and finest portraits ever produced by the calotype process were taken by Mr. Mackinlay, who, as an amateur, excelled in this branch of the art.” A member of the Photographic Society in London from its founding, Mackinlay submitted three calotypes to the society’s 1856 exhibition, including one taken on the Rhine. He contributed two calotypes to the Photographic Exchange Club album in 1855 and one to the following year’s album. By the time of the Exchange Club’s 1857 album, Mackinlay had turned to collodion; his contributions to the 1858 exhibition of the Photographic Society of Scotland in Edinburgh were a mixture of collodion and calotype. Mackinlay was also an early practitioner of electrotyping, reproducing works from Horace Walpole’s art collection “with a degree of excellence that has never been surpassed,” in the opinion of the Photographic Journal. His obituary in Photographic News recorded that Mackinlay, a fellow of the Society of Arts, “was well known to and highly respected by the early photographers, and by the members of many learned societies and clubs of which he was a member.”
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007)
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission.
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012.
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