Skip to Main Content
Harry Ransom Center homepage

News Release — March 6, 2024

Exhibition of Early Photography To Open at the Ransom Center

A rare opportunity to view the Clarkson Stanfield Album, a superb volume of early photographs by the celebrated Scottish partnership of Hill & Adamson, is coming to the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin. Their work endures today as one of the earliest sustained explorations of photography as an art form.

“The Clarkson Stanfield Album is a rare survivor from the earliest years of photography, but with the passage of time, this body of work has come to be seen as not merely ‘early’ but as a powerful body of creative work that fixed in permanent form the lives and aspirations of Hill’s and Adamson’s fellow villagers and neighbors,” said Ransom Center Director Stephen Enniss. “The beauty of this work is its most enduring feature.”

Launching their collaboration in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1843, the established landscape painter David Octavius Hill (1802-1870) and the young photographer Robert Adamson (1821-1848) combined their aesthetic sensitivity and technical brilliance to produce an unparalleled body of portraits, architectural and landscapes scenes, and pioneering social documents. They accomplished this in a medium that had seemed nothing short of miraculous when it was revealed to the public just four years earlier.

During the fall of 1845, they prepared an album of their finest work, arranging more than 100 salted paper prints from their calotype negatives into an elegant folio, and sold it to English marine painter Clarkson Frederick Stanfield (1793-1867). Now known as the Clarkson Stanfield Album, it is one of only a few unique albums assembled during the years before Adamson’s death at age 26.

"Scholars have visited from around the world to study this unique album, and I am thrilled to share it with more audiences,” said Jessica S. McDonald, the Ransom Center’s Nancy Inman and Marlene Nathan Meyerson Curator of Photography. “Sixty years after acquiring the album, this exhibition has provided an important opportunity to reexamine the history and purpose of the album itself.”

Although Adamson’s prints are in remarkable condition, the album that has protected them for over 175 years needs structural repair. Treatment has begun, and the current stage of that long process provides a rare opportunity to view several sections of the album at once before conservators return them to the original binding. The expertise of the Ransom Center’s conservators and preparators has been essential to this exhibition, and to the long-term care of this singular object.

Hill & Adamson: The Clarkson Stanfield Album” will be on view through June 2.

Man leaning against a boat

Hill & Adamson (Scottish, active 1843–1847), A Newhaven Pilot, 1843–1845. Salted paper print, 20.3 x 14.6 cm. From the album 100 Calotypes, 1845. Harry Ransom Center, Gernsheim Collection, purchase, 964:0048:0085

Press Room Press Releases


Alyssa Morris
Communications & Marketing Manager