Amelia Robertson Paton

(Amelia Hill)

1820 - 1904

Sculptress and artist. Born in Dunfermline, the daughter of a textile designer and elder sister of the notable painters Sir Joseph Noël Paton (1821 - 1901) and Waller Hugh Paton (1828-95). She was educated at home and self-taught in sculpture and art. In 1859, she moved to live with her brothers in Edinburgh and the following year she exhibited publicly for the first time when two of her busts were shown at the Royal Scottish Academy. Her earlier works were mainly of family and friends. In 1862, Paton married artist and photographic pioneer David Octavius Hill (1802-70), becoming his second wife, and her professional career flourished as a result. The couple were prominent socialites and Paton gained access to eminent sitters such as physicist Sir David Brewster (1781 - 1868), Thomas Carlyle (1795 - 1881) and painter Sir George Harvey (1806-76), and she modelled their likenesses in marble. She is believed to have been the first woman to have her sculptures located in a public space, with her public commissions including the statues of David Livingstone in Princes Street Gardens (Edinburgh) and Robert Burns in Dumfries. She was also responsible for three of the statues on the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, based on characters from Sir Walter Scott's novels.

Paton displayed numerous works at the Royal Academy, the Royal Scottish Academy and the Glasgow Institute. Her sex excluded from membership of the Royal Scottish Academy so, in 1877, she helped found the Albert Institute in Edinburgh's Shandwick Place, as body to encourage artists which did not discriminate on grounds of gender. Several of her works can now be seen in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

She died at her home, Newington Lodge on Mayfield Terrace in Edinburgh and lies buried next to her husband in Dean Cemetery. She created the flamboyant marble bust of her husband which sits above the grave.

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