Sir David Brewster

Accession Number

Sir David Brewster

John Adamson; Robert Adamson

Object Creation Date
circa 1841-1842

Medium & Support
salted paper print

5 1/4 in x 5 9/16 in (13.3 cm x 14.1 cm);14 5/16 in x 19 5/16 in (36.35 cm x 49.05 cm);5 3/16 in x 5 9/16 in (13.2 cm x 14.2 cm);5 1/8 in x 5 1/2 in (13 cm x 14 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase made possible by the Friends of the Museum of Art

Subject matter
Presented in dark siena hues, this photograph is a portrait of an elegantly dressed man with gray hair, wearing a three piece suit. Centrally composed, the man sits facing the camera, one hand on his knee, the other across his stomach. The man seems to be immersed in an aura-like, atmospheric shroud, caused either by the photo’s age or from the archaic photographic process itself. The effect of meeting of the sitter’s gaze through this foggy veil is stirring and emotive. The man is named Sir David Brewster, a Scottish polymath who is associated with the invention of early optical devices such as the kaleidoscope and stereoscope. The photographers, John and Robert Adamson, along with Brewster himself, were all friends with William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of the calotype and salted paper photographic processes. It was through this relationship that the Adamson brothers learned how to use these early mediums, and went on to produce some of the most notable photography of that era.  

Physical Description
This photograph depicts an older man wearing a three piece suit sitting facing the camera.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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men (male humans)
salted paper prints
salted paper processes

2 Related Resources

Photographic Portraiture in the 19th Century
(Part of: Identity and Self-Understanding)
 W19 Perlove - HISTART 210 History of Photography Study Case 
(Part of: FFW Lower Level Study Cases     )

& Author Notes

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