The Bird Cage by David Octavius Hill

The Bird Cage by David Octavius Hill

The Bird Cage

David Octavius Hill

Title

The Bird Cage

 
Artist
Year
c. 1845  
Technique
photogravure from the calotype, 1890, preceding Camerawork edition 
Image Size
8 1/8 x 6 3/16"  
Signature
 
Edition Size
unknown 
Annotations
title and artist's name in ink below image 
Reference
 
Paper
fine cream laid 
State
 
Publisher
J.C. Annan 
Inventory ID
SDAE392 
Price
$600.00 
Description

"The Bird Cage" was done by Hill around 1845. This work was printed by J. Craig Annan (1864-1946) in 1890, from the calotype for the portfolio "Twenty Photogravure Prints by James Craig Annan". It predates the Camerawork edition of October, 1909.

This image was first made as a calotype which, though still faster than its predecessor the daguerreotype, was an endeavor, with its many steps and chemical requirements taking up to an hour to produce; it was later reproduced as a photogravure, as here. Hill and his studio partner, engineer Robert Adamson, used the calotype process to produce what was later called "the first substantial body of self-consciously artistic work using the newly invented medium of photography." (Daniel Malcolm, Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History)

Two young women in modest Victorian dress inspect a birdcage, light filtering down upon their braided hair, the drape of their shawls, and the vessel of water for the inhabitant of the cage. Hill was as adept at the early forms of photography as he was at oil painting. Every composition had to be arranged with particular care, taking into account the strength of available light and the stillness (and patience) of the portrait sitter.

 

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