Iconic images of Africa and Livingstone's travels

Striking images of 19th-century Africa are displayed for the first time in a new exhibition about explorer David Livingstone.

'Picturing Africa: Illustrating Livingstone's travels' reveals some of the first illustrations that Victorians ever saw of a continent which previously had been unknown and little understood.

Along with photographer John Kirk and artist Thomas Baines, Livingstone portrayed an African landscape and people that fascinated their contemporaries and inspired generations.

Engraving showing group of Africans and missionary
Engraving on a Livingstone manuscript.

The exhibition investigates how these arresting images were first sketched, photographed and described in Africa, then transformed at home on to the printed page.

Original material in the lively and colourful exhibition also tells of how the Scots missionary's exploits were popularised through the images he brought back from Africa.

Star exhibits include:

  • Sketches in Livingstone's own field diaries
  • Watercolours by Baines that have never before been seen on display
  • The magic lantern Livingstone used in Africa to tell the story of the Bible
  • The original manuscript of the book that made his name — 'Missionary travels and researches in South Africa', published in 1857.

Bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith, who performed the official opening ceremony, describes it as 'a magnificent exhibition'.

Read more in our Livingstone exhibition press release.

14 June 2013

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