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HomeContents > People > Photographers > William Donaldson Clark

Dates:  1813 - 1873
Born:  Scotland, Ayr
Active:  Scotland

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for William Donaldson Clark
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Born in Ayr and described by the Scotsman as “a man of exquisite taste and fine perception,” Clark sadly had his life cut short by a tramway accident in Edinburgh. At a time when chemical knowledge was essential to industry, he became a prosperous calico printer in Derbyshire. Then, according to his obituary in the British Journal of Photography, Clark set up house in Edinburgh, gathering “round him a circle of friends interested in art and photography.” It was during this early retirement that Clark took up a second career, buying the print shop of Alexander Hill (brother of David Octavius Hill) and expanding the stock with a “higher class of articles of virtu.” He was secretary of the Photographic Society of Scotland and a vice president of the Edinburgh Photographic Society. A prolific exhibitor, Clark was contributing photographs taken by the waxed-paper process as late as 1858. His largest single body of work is an extensive stone-by-stone photographic documentation of Melrose Abbey. For this project, Clark rented a large furnished house nearby, welcomed his photographic friends, and engaged workmen to erect scaffolding to secure the best points of view for photographing the abbey. 
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. 
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