Cartomania: A Victorian Photographic Phenomenon

Aberdeen Maritime Museum


30/11/2019 - 13/04/2020

'Cartes de visite' were the first form of affordable mass-produced photography.

These images of families and friends, royalty and celebrities of the day were wildly popular during the Victorian era.

Queen Victoria herself helped spread the craze by building her own collection. People collected photographs of their families and friends, royalty and celebrities of the day.

Cartomania explores this early photographic phenomenon through the work of pioneering photographers such as the celebrated Aberdonian photographer George Washington Wilson.

This fascinating exhibition looks in detail at the collecting craze, explores the social impact of photography, changing fashions and how you can date your own cartes de visite.


Cartomania: A Victorian collecting sensation
Jenny Pape-Carlisle, Curator (History)

Wed 8 January, 12.30pm (45mins), free
Education Suite

Join Cartomania exhibition curator, Jenny Pape-Carlisle, to find out how these small photographs changed Victorian society, and what we can still learn from them today.

Aberdeen citizens: Portraits from Victorian studios
Dr Antonia Laurence-Allen, Curator, National Trust for Scotland


Wed 5 February, 12.30pm (45mins), free
Education Suite

Who was selling and buying photographs in Victorian Aberdeen and why? Antonia explores the growth of photographic studios in Aberdeen, and how the business of producing portraits came to define a studio's success.


George Washington Wilson: A man of firsts
Ashleigh Black, PhD Student in Film and Visual Culture, University of Aberdeen

Wed 4 March, 12.30pm (45mins), free
Education Suite

Ashleigh considers the many firsts in the international career of pioneering photographer and Aberdonian, George Washington Wilson, including creating the first photomontage and being the first person in the UK to photograph the moon.


19th-century quines: Women in the George Washington Wilson photographic collection
Dr Áine Larkin, Senior Lecturer in French, University of Aberdeen

Wed 1 April, 12.30pm (45mins), free
Education Suite

George Washington Wilson was named Photographer Royal for Scotland in 1860. A collection of over 37,000 glass plate negatives is held at the University of Aberdeen library, consisting of landscapes, cityscapes, and portrait photographs from across Britain and its former colonies. Áine explores representations of women in the collection and considers their location, class, occupation, and ethnicity.