Scotland and the photographically illustrated book, 1845-1900

Items from our collections showcase photographically illustrated books relating to Scotland, produced in the 19th century. From 30 November 2016 to 26 March 2017.


The Scott Monument under construction
The Scott Monument,
from 'Sun pictures in Scotland'
by William Henry Fox Talbot,
London, 1845.

Early photography is on display at the National Library of Scotland, including images from Scottish literature, architecture, guidebooks, and Scotland's photographers overseas.


The invention of photography

In 1839, the invention of photography was announced in France. Louis Daguerre's daguerreotype process was quickly followed by the unveiling of 'photogenic drawings' by William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877).

Talbot's calotype process used a camera negative to make multiple copies of an image. He realised this could be used in book illustration, and in 1845 he produced 'Sun pictures in Scotland'. Read more about 'Sun pictures in Scotland'


Scottish photography

From the late 1840s, photography became simpler, quicker and more reliable. Enterprising Scots followed Talbot's example, maximising commercial opportunities of photography in book form.

Our 'Sun pictures' display represents a small selection of 19th-century photographically illustrated books relating to Scotland.

The display includes:


Learn more

You can find further resources about early photography on our Library websites, including:


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