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. The common motif of books alludes to her intellectual abilities.

In 1849 Rigby assumed the title Lady Eastlake upon marrying Sir Charles Eastlake (1793-1865), who in 1853 became the first president of the Royal Photographic Society in London. A regular contributor to the Quarterly Review, she singled out Hill and Adamson's work in an 1857 article: "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."

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.


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