[Miss Ellen and Miss Agnes Milne]

Hill & Adamson1843–1847

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Even the most staged works of Hill and Adamson (David Octavius Hill [1802-70] and Robert Adamson [1821-48]) possess a naturalism that belies the presence of the camera. The subjects of the calotypes rarely acknowledge the photographers or their equipment. Instead, the sitters often look away or focus on an object within the composition. David Bruce, in Sun Pictures: The Hill-Adamson Calotypes (1974), suggests that this "sense of repose" is perhaps due to the fact that the models did not know "how to present themselves . . . , if only because the experience of photography of the individuals or indeed of the community must have been extremely limited."

In this full-length portrait of Ellen and Agnes Milne, the young women turn their heads to the side, revealing their intricate hairstyles. Standing against a trellis and doorway at the photographers’ residence, Rock House, a familiar backdrop (see also 88.XM.57.46, 84.XM.445.11 and 84.XM.445.21), the sisters are surrounded by bonnets, books, a parasol, and a birdcage, complete with a bird drawn on the negative by Hill. The bright light enables the camera to capture the patterns of the siblings' dresses and shawls.

Anne M. Lyden. Hill and Adamson, In Focus: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), 70. ©1999, J. Paul Getty Museum.


  • Title: [Miss Ellen and Miss Agnes Milne]
  • Creator: Hill & Adamson
  • Date Created: 1843–1847
  • Physical Dimensions: 19.5 × 14 cm (7 11/16 × 5 1/2 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: 84.XM.445.6
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Hill & Adamson (Scottish, active 1843 - 1848)
  • Classification: Photographs (Visual Works)

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps