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J. Paul Getty Museum to open an exhibition devoted to 19th-Century Partnership of Scottish Photographers Hill and Adamson

Exhibition dates: July 20-October 10, 1999
Exhibition location: West Pavilion

June 28, 1999

Los Angeles, CA--From July 20 through October 10, 1999, the J. Paul Getty Museum will present Light in the Darkness: The Photographs of Hill and Adamson, an exhibition of photographs by David Octavius Hill (1802-1870) and Robert Adamson (1821-1848). In 1840s Scotland, they formed one of the most celebrated partnerships in the history of photography. The exhibition includes about 20 rare photographs (including five images in albums) drawn from the Getty Museum’s collection of more than 460 salted paper prints and six negatives by Hill and Adamson, along with a small selection of works in other media.

Hill, a painter, and Adamson, an engineer, initially teamed up to prepare photographic studies for Hill’s large historical painting commemorating the formation of the Free Church of Scotland. The four-and-a-half-year partnership blossomed into a remarkable body of collaborative photographs. The exhibition features images of famous scholars, scientists, and ministers, among them the Rev. Dr. James McCosh, who became a president of Princeton University, and the Rev. Peter Jones, whose portrait may be one of the earliest surviving photographs of a Native American.

Light in the Darkness: The Photographs of Hill and Adamson has been organized by Anne M. Lyden, curatorial assistant, Department of Photographs.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum has published a book, In Focus: Hill and Adamson, that examines the nature of their artistic collaboration and reproduces 47 images from the Museum’s collection with commentary by Ms. Lyden. Also included are a chronology of significant events in the history of the Hill and Adamson alliance and an edited transcript of a colloquium on the artists held at the Getty Center in 1997 with participants Ms. Lyden; Weston Naef, Curator of Photographs, the J. Paul Getty Museum; Sara Stevenson, Curator of Photographs, Scottish National Portrait Gallery; A.D. Morrison-Low, Curator of Historic Scientific Instruments and Photography, National Museums of Scotland; Jonathan Reff, photographer, Los Angeles; Michael Wilson, private collector, Los Angeles and London; and David Featherstone, independent editor and curator, San Francisco. The book contains 146 pages, 55 duotone illustrations, and one foldout (ISBN 0-89236-540-4). It is available in the Museum bookstore (softcover, $16.95) or via the Internet at

A concert is featured in conjunction with the exhibition, Light in the Darkness: The Photographs of Hill and Adamson. It is part of the 1999 Gordon Getty Concert Series entitled Musical Portraiture, directed by UCLA’s Robert Winter.

The Exotic Scots
Saturday, July 24, 8pm
Outdoors at the Getty Center

At the time of Hill and Adamson’s collaborative work, Scotland represented exoticism and mystery to the rest of Europe. The LA Baroque Orchestra and soprano Kris Gould will explore musical responses to 18th- and 19th-century Scotland through folk songs and works by Beethoven, Haydn, and others.

Tickets ($22) available through Tickets LA: (323) 665-TKTS. Parking at the Getty Center is $5. Concert performed outdoors at 8 p.m., preceded by a lecture at 7:15 p.m. Light in the Darkness: The Photographs of Hill and Adamson will be open for viewing. The Restaurant at the Getty Center offers a $35 prix fixe pre-concert menu; call 310-440-7300 for dining reservations.

Light in the Darkness: The Photographs of Hill and Adamson is one of three exhibitions on view at the Getty Museum this summer that explore portraiture and fame. The related exhibitions are Nadar/Warhol: Paris/New York (July 20-October 10, 1999), a major loan exhibition exploring the photographic visions of two artists who each became synonymous with fame and celebrity; and A Passion for Performance: Sarah Siddons and her Portraitists (July 27-September 26, 1999), featuring 10 portraits by some of the leading 18th-century British painters who immortalized the tragic actress Sarah Siddons (1755-1831).

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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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