Inventing Scotland: Photography, Landscape, and National Identity

  • Stephen Monteiro
Part of the Springer Geography book series (SPRINGERGEOGR)


This chapter considers architectural and topographical photography’s role in the formation and expression of national identity in Great Britain in the mid-nineteenth century. It examines opposing depictions of national imaginaries in the 1840s by the English inventor of negative-positive calotype photography, William Henry Fox Talbot, and several Scottish practitioners of that process, including John and Robert Adamson, David Octavius Hill, and the amateur photographers of the Calotype Club of Edinburgh. Talbot’s book, Sun Pictures in Scotland, exercised an English claim to photography by following the visual rhetoric of the picturesque in reducing Scottish identity to the ruins and landscapes associated with the work of Sir Walter Scott. The Adamsons, Hill, and the members of the Calotype Club embarked on photography projects that eschewed such British interpretations of Scottish culture, focusing instead on contemporary figures and events, historical sites, and sustained land use. This chapter concludes that although early Scottish photography promoted a cohesive national identity, it set in motion the paradoxical potential for signs of Scottish national character and action to be absorbed into a larger, hegemonic narrative of an Anglicized Great Britain.


Photography Calotype Picturesque Highlandism England Scotland 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The American University of ParisParisFrance

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