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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Amelia Robertson Paton Hill (1820–1904)

The foremost woman sculptor in nineteenth-century Scotland, and an accomplished painter and book illustrator, she was born into a notable artistic family from Dunfermline that included her brothers, the painters Sir Joseph Noël Paton and Waller Hugh Paton, and her nephew, the sculptor Waller Hubert Paton. She was also the second wife of the painter and pioneering photographer David Octavius Hill, whose position as the Secretary of the Royal Scottish Academy from 1830 to 1869 almost certainly aided her in combating the social and institutional obstacles she encountered in her bid for recognition as a professional sculptor. For her part, she provided Hill with valuable assistance in completing his magnum opus, the colossal Disruption Picture (1843-66), which commemorated the founding of the Free Church of Scotland. Her principal output was in marble portrait busts, her subjects including many of the leading cultural figures of the day, such as Thomas Carlyle (1866–67), Sir George Harvey (1867), and Sir David Brewster (1867), as well as D. O. Hill himself (1868; bronze copy on his grave in Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh, 1880). She also completed a number of major public commissions, including a monument to Robert Burns in Dumfries (1881–82), her last major work. As D. O. Hill’s widow, she lived in semi-retirement at Newington Lodge, Mayfield, Edinburgh, but continued to exhibit at the Royal Scottish Academy until two years before her death.

Bibliography: T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. xxxvii; P. de Montfort, ‘Hill [Paton], Amelia Robertson’, ODNB, 2004; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 2, pp. 11, 220–26; 401–02, 508, 509, 515; S.A. Tooley, ‘A Famous Lady Sculptor. An interview with Mrs D.O. Hill’, The Young Woman: a monthly journal and review, no. 35, August 1895, pp. 361–67.

Ray McKenzie 2018

Hill, Amelia Robertson Paton

Alexander Blaikley, Amelia Robertson Hill, 1853,
chalk drawing, National Galleries of Scotland
(photo: Creative Commons CC BY-NC)