# 36426

MOFFAT, John (1819-1894)

Rev. John Guthrie, Evangelical Church minister, father of the artist Sir James Guthrie : stereoscopic portrait. Edinburgh, 1856-57.

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Stereoscopic albumen print photograph, each image 73 x 65 mm (arched-top format), on yellow card mount 83 x 173 mm, with blind stamp of ‘Lennie / 46 Princes St. / Edinburgh’; verso with fully contemporary inscription in ink ‘Revd. J. Guthrie’, and with the original Scots-Australian owner’s name in pencil ‘McMillan’; both are strong albumen prints with rich tones; some light rubbing but otherwise in very good condition; the mount is excellent (verso with some insignificant pale foxing).

Stereoscopic portrait of Evangelist Union minister Rev. John Guthrie (1814-1878), father of Scottish artist Sir James Guthrie (1859-1930).

This portrait – of which we can trace no other surviving example – was taken by pioneer Scottish photographer John Moffat (1819-1894) in his studio at 19 Princes Street, Edinburgh, in 1856-57, and was sold by Moffat’s neighbour, the optician John Lennie, whose business premises were at 46 Princes Street from 1856. (John Lennie joined the Photographic Society of Scotland in 1856 and joined Edinburgh Photographic Society in 1861).

The reason we believe the photograph dates to around 1856 or 1857 is based on the fact that it was sourced with a group of stereoscopic photographs – clearly all by the same photographer (John Moffat) and taken around the same time – which included a portrait of Hungarian revolutionary, statesman and orator Lajos Kossuth (1802-1894), taken in Edinburgh by John Moffat during Kossuth’s lecture tour of Scotland in 1856-57.

These stereoviews were sourced in Melbourne, and were originally acquired by a Scots-Australian named McMillan; all of the backs bear his discreet ownership signature in pencil. We believe this is likely to be Dr. Thomas Law McMillan, who received his medical degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1850 and then made his way to Australia via America, working his passage as a ship’s surgeon. He arrived in Port Phillip in February 1853 during the early phase of the first Australian gold rush. After a period seeking his fortune on the Central Victorian goldfields, McMillan returned to medicine and worked as a doctor in Geelong and Melbourne, where he became President of the Medical Society of Victoria. These facts provide a plausible explanation as to why the subjects of the stereoscopic photographs McMillan acquired – presumably on a visit home to Edinburgh in the second half of the 1850s – are, in the main, prominent Scottish figures in the fields of medicine and science (while Lajos Kossuth, of course, was a hero to every Scot with nationalist leanings). Furthermore, the Australian stereoscopic views from the same collection, similarly inscribed McMillan, date from the early 1860s and are mostly of Central Victorian goldfields subjects, a fact which also neatly dovetails with the Thomas Law McMillan hypothesis.

Guthrie, John, D.D., son of John Guthrie, Milnathort, Kinross-shire, was born at Milnathort, May 30, 1814, and after studying at the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated M.A. in 1835, was in 1810 ordained minister of the United Secession Church in Kendal. Sympathising with the views of Dr. James Morison, he was, in 1843, deposed, and joined with Dr. Morison in forming the Evangelical Union. He continued in Kendal till 1848, becoming then minister of Dundas St. Evangelical Union Church, Glasgow. In 1851 he went to Greenock; thence, in 1862, to Tolmer’s Square, London, returning in 1860 to Glasgow as minister of Howard St. E. U. Church. He died in London, September 18, 1878, while on his way to New Zealand. From 1846 to 1861 he was Professor to the Evangelical Union, and was re-elected in 1875. He received the degree of D.D. from Coburg University, U.S.A., in 1875. He was Convener of the Committee which compiled the Evangelical Hymn Book of 1856, and a member of that which compiled the Evangelical Hymnal of 1878 (to which he contributed four hymns). His hymns appeared in The Daystar, The Evangelical Magazine, &c. In 1869 he published Sacred Lyrics; Hymns, original and translated from the German, with versions of Psalms, London, J. Nisbet & Co., 1869.‘ (Hymnary.org)