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  R. S. Webster, photographer

Robert "R. S." Webster was born in Scotland in 1867. His earliest known professional engagement was when he apprenticed at age 14 with the Edinburgh firm of Doig, McKechnie & Davies. Originally a framing business, by the 1880s the company was well known for its stellar enlargements and paintings' copier. Within five years, Mr. Webster was employed by Marshall Wane's studio, located at 82 George Street, in the heart of downtown Edinburgh. He oversaw the departments for enlargements and platinum and carbon prints. Mr. Webster had become such a master of these processes, he quickly established a reputation for artistic studio portraits as well as for his superlative text illustrations. His success earned him membership in the prestigious Edinburgh Photographic Society in 1887, as well as numerous awards for his platinotypes at various exhibits throughout Edinburgh and London. His portraits were featured at the Vienna Art Exhibition in 1891 and at London's Dudley Gallery in 1894.

By 1894, Mr. Webster felt confident enough to leave Mr. Wane's lucrative business and open his own firm at 60 Princes Street. His wife frequently joined him, and he frequently complimented her skill as a retoucher, adding she "possesses fine artistic taste." In 1895, several of their works were displayed at London's Imperial Institute Art Section. Mr. Webster's landscape enlargements were considered the finest in the region, and his fourth prize at the 'Cadet' International Prize Competition (also in 1895) earned him a mention in the illustrious industry publication, The Photogram. He also contributed his considerable knowledge to professional journal articles and lectures on enlargements. His recognition earned him an appointment by Queen Victoria as Scotland's official General Assembly photographer.

Throughout a career that spanned more than three decades, Mr. Webster operated three Edinburgh studios. In 1902, he left the Princes Street location for a facility at 97 Gilmore Place. By 1920, he set up shop at 43 South Clerk Street, where he maintained a studio until 1926. There is no known documented professional activity for Mr. Stewart, who was by now nearing age 60, after 1926. However, R. S. Webster's photographic heritage has not been completely relegated to the annals of history. His great-grandson, Malcolm Graves, continues in the family business as a successful commercial photographer in Australia. He opened his own studio, Malcolm Graves Photography, in Sydney in 2012.

1896 The British Printer, Vol. IX (London: Raithsby, Lawrence & Co., Ltd.), p. 191.

1897 The Ludgate Monthly, Vol. IV (London: W.J.P. Monckton), p. 662.

1895 The Photogram (London: Dawbarn & Ward, Ltd.), pp. 210-211.

1899 Photography, Vol. XI (London: Iliffe, Sons & Sturmey Ltd.), p. 758.

2008 Portrait of Robert S. Webster (URL:

2016 R S Webster: Portraits in Folder (URL:

2016 Robert S Webster Awards in Exhibitions (URL:

2016 Robert S. Webster Cabinet Prints (URL:

1894 The Studio, Vol. IV (London: Offices of The Studio), p. 62.

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2018-01-08 07:49:23

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