Scotland’s towns and cities are rich in culture and steeped in history; from ecclesiastical towns and delightful fishing villages and harbours, to industrial ports and vibrant cosmopolitan centres, Scotland’s urban landscapes are truly indicative of Scotland’s rich past.
This exhibition includes some of the earliest known visual records of these locations and many provide a rare document of urban life in Scotland between the turn of the 18th century through to the beginning of the 20th century. The earliest is a drawing from 1693 by John Abraham Slezer, showing St Andrews and made to illustrate his historically important volume Theatrum Scotiae.
Artists on show include such distinguished names as J.M.W. Turner, Paul Sandby, Thomas Girtin and Alexander Nasmyth. Amateur artists are also widely represented and some of the most extraordinary and surprising images in the exhibition are those by these much underrated yet hugely important and often very competent amateurs. Examples are a very early view of Montrose by Henrietta Ouchterlony (who remarkably used her own family money to finance the production of a print after her drawing) and a view of Aberdeen in 1661 by the antiquarian Dr Gregory Sharpe. Other views are deeply personal, such as Kenneth MacLeay’s delicate pencil drawing of his hometown Oban.
Town and City is an exhibition of drawings, watercolours and prints drawn from the Scottish National Collection and provides a fascinating look at Scotland’s urban landscapes before the age of the camera or through the eyes of the artist.