The Victorians were the harbingers of the modern age, their society driven by curiosity, a zeal for invention, and an enormous appetite for economic and imperial consumption. The boiler room of the era was stoked furiously, and its frequent combustions produced advances in everything from science and philosophy to industry and architecture.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Scotland was a nation transformed. Glasgow had exploded into the second city of the Empire, the majestic Forth Bridge was celebrated as a wonder of the modern world, and railways had opened the remote Highlands to new industries of leisure and tourism.
But for every grand museum or gothic-revival country house, tenements and slums rose in their thousands – overcrowded living for the vast army of workers that sustained the great Victorian machine. Ambition and wealth saw social divisions become ever more acute, producing a society obsessed with class hierarchy.
Now, for the first time, we are showcasing images from the National Collection in a remarkable illustration of this landmark era. From the pioneering work of photographers like John Forbes White and Henry Bedford Lemerre, to never before seen excerpts from private family albums, Victorian Scotland is a window on the lives of the generation who changed the world.