The Dawn of Photography

The Dawn of Photography

An Album of Calotypes by a Scottish Pioneer

Newly discovered and never before exposed to public view, an album of photographic salt prints attributed to Edinburgh architect Charles George Hood Kinnear (1830-1894) featuring in our September Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs auction marks a substantial expansion of the known corpus of images produced by the circle of early photography enthusiasts active in Scotland during the 1840s.

Charles George Hood Kinnear
Lot 60 | Attributed to Charles George Hood Kinnear (1830-1894) | Album of salt prints from calotype negatives, c.1846-8 | Sold for £85,200 incl premium


View Lot 60 ⇒


Fox Talbot revealed his method of ‘photogenic drawing’ to the world in January 1839, prompted by the announcement from France of a similar breakthrough by Louis Daguerre. By September 1840 he had refined his process to allow the production of photographic positives from paper negatives via contact printing. This ‘calotype’ method, the term being derived from the Greek ‘kalos’ (beautiful), did not produce images as detailed as a Daguerrotype, but had the overriding advantage of allowing multiple prints to be made from a single negative, whereas Daguerrotypes were unique and could not be reproduced. Fox Talbot patented his method in February 1841, and it was introduced to Scotland shortly after by his friend and fellow scientist Sir David Brewster. Fox Talbot accepted Brewster’s advice that it would not be worthwhile patenting the process in Scotland, clearing the way for the partnership of David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, who began producing the country's first calotypes soon after.


Charles George Hood Kinnear


Charles George Hood Kinnear (1830-1894) was born in 1830 at Kinloch House, near Collessie, Fife, into a wealthy banking family. In 1849 he was articled to Edinburgh architects William Burn and David Bryce. It is suggested in the Dictionary of Scottish Architects that he may have learnt photography from Bryce, though the dates in this album, 1846-8, indicate that his photographic experiments pre-date their known professional association.


Charles George Hood Kinnear


Kinnear became a founding member of the Photographic Society of Scotland in 1856, and in the same year entered into partnership with Edinburgh architect John Dick Peddie. In 1857 he went on an architectural and photographic tour of northern France using a new form of camera with conical bellows, which provided the model for nearly all subsequent cameras.


Charles George Hood Kinnear


Kinnear’s final public exhibition of photographs was in 1864, after which his architectural work absorbed most of his efforts; the firm of Peddie & Kinnear had become hugely successful, securing major commissions for private houses, public buildings and churches throughout Scotland which remain major landmarks to this day, including Edinburgh's Cockburn Street, and the hydropathics at Dunblane, Craiglockhart and Callander.


Charles George Hood Kinnear




Auction Information


Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs

28th September 2022 | Edinburgh


View the auction results ⇒




Rare Books, Manuscripts & Maps


Lyon & Turnbull’s dedicated team of Rare Books, Manuscripts & Maps specialists have established an international reputation for their auctions, selling both through our UK auction house, and via live online auctions. Our specialists are experts not only on books and manuscripts, but also on current market conditions, an essential combination to the successful sale of fine antiquarian books, modern first editions, folios, autographed letters and important archives.


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