Lady Elizabeth Eastlake

Hill & Adamson1843–1848

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Lady Elizabeth Eastlake, née Elizabeth Rigby (1809-93) lived in Edinburgh during the 1840s, where she was welcomed into distinguished literary and social circles. She became a very popular sitter for Hill and Adamson (David Octavius Hill [1802-70] and Robert Adamson [1821-48]), appearing in more than twenty calotypes. One of these is believed to have been the first photograph viewed by Prince Albert. In this image she seems lost in thought. Although leaning forward, she does not engage the viewer.

In 1849 Rigby assumed the title Lady Eastlake upon marrying Sir Charles Eastlake (1793-1865). She became an author and critic, and in 1857 she published a groundbreaking article, "Photography," in the Quarterly Review, in which she 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." In the same article, she singled out Hill and Adamson's work: "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."

Adapted from Anne M. Lyden. Hill and Adamson, In Focus: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), 36. ©1999, J. Paul Getty Museum; getty.edu, Interpretive Content Department, 2009.


  • Title: Lady Elizabeth Eastlake
  • Creator: Hill & Adamson
  • Date Created: 1843–1848
  • Physical Dimensions: 20.5 × 15.2 cm (8 1/16 × 6 in.)
  • Type: Print
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Salted paper print from a paper negative
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 88.XM.57.14
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Hill & Adamson (Scottish, active 1843 - 1848)
  • Classification: Photographs (Visual Works)

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