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HomeContents > People > Photographers > James Abbot

Dates:  1822 - 1898
Active:  UK

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for James Abbot
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Even while apprenticed as a mechanic, the youthful Abbot displayed an intense interest in the study of works of art. One of the earliest to practice photography in Scotland, Abbot designed and built his own cameras and made his first lens by grinding down the bottom of a water tumbler. The Practical Photographer remembered him for devising “other ingenious arrangements when materials were less readily obtainable.” Abbot set up as a portrait photographer in Dundee in 1858, advertising himself solely as a calotypist, a title perpetuated on the backs of his carte-de-visite mounts through the 1850s, although he did turn to wet collodion and albumen paper. Abbot was a member of the Edinburgh Photographic Society and a close friend of the St. Andrews photographer Thomas Rodger. 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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Unidentified photographer
Portrait of James Abbot 
Family history 
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