Sillar, Robert

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Robert George SILLAR (1827-1902) was a merchant at Sillar & Brothers in Shanghai for several years from c.1856. He was a friend of William Vacher, a fellow Shanghai amateur photographer. Several photographs taken in and around Shanghai, and captioned with 'R.G.S.' or an 'S' (for Sillar), are in two photograph albums held by the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, Bath, England. It is probable that several other photographs in these two albums (HPC refs: VH01 and VH02) were also taken by Sillar. Sillar may well have made the first negatives in Shanghai, or even all China. Michael Gray notes that Sillar made prints from calotype paper negatives, the latter process being 'extremely unusual'. His salt prints in the Vacher-Hilditch Collection were almost certainly made using Le Gray's waxed paper process. William Vacher took this portrait of Robert Sillar (VH02-116). Source: History of Photography in China, 1842-1860 by Terry Bennett, pages 69-75.