John Muir Wood
- For the conservationist and naturalist, see John Muir.
Wood's father was a partner in the Edinburgh piano manufacturing and music publishing firm of Muir, Wood and Company, and later Wood, Small and Company. In 1799 his company won a royal warrant as "Musical Instrument Makers of His Majesty."
Wood's interest in music likely stemmed from his father's profession as a piano manufacturer and music publisher in Edinburgh. As a youth in Edinburgh Wood received training as a pianist, eventually travelling to Paris and Vienna to continue his musical studies.
In 1828 Wood returned to Edinburgh as a music teacher, later entering the family business. With his brothers, George (1812-1893) and Robert (1797-1871), he operated the piano and music publishing firm of Wood & Co. in Edinburgh. After relocating to Glasgow, Wood established John Muir Wood & Co. on Buchanan Street.
Wood's music businesses were quite successful and through his work he was involved in arranging many classical music concerts in Glasgow. One of those concerts was the visit of Frédéric Chopin to Scotland in 1848, which Wood coordinated with London-based piano-manufacturer James Shudi Broadwood.
Wood never pursued photography for profit. The focus of his photographs included individual portraits, group scenes, streetscapes, ruins and rural landscapes. He travelled to remote locations for his photography.
Wood's knowledge of photography may date from his friendship in the 1840s with the eye surgeon Dr. Jasper MacAldin, who shared his knowledge of optics and chemistry. MacAldin was also a subject in several of Wood's portraits.
Wood produced his photographs using a calotype process. He also experimented with the addition of various metals, such as copper, tin, gold and uranium in an attempt to produce different color tones and more permanent images.
Wood's collection of more than 900 images, believed by experts to be the first serious series of landscape pictures of Scotland, are part of the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland. An exhibit of this collection was held at the National Gallery of Scotland in 2008. The collection is permanently held at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
A selection of Wood's photographs, entitled "Photography of John Muir Wood", by Sarah Stevenson, etal. was published in 1988.
John Muir Wood is the great-grandfather of Sir Alan Muir Wood (1921-2009), a British civil engineer known as the father of modern tunneling. Sir Alan and his son, Dr. Paul Muir Wood, were instrumental in donating John Muir Woods photographic images to the National Galleries of Scotland.
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