William Boyd on Raymond Depardon’s Grisaille Vision of 1980s Glasgow



The French photographer's work in Scotland's famously gritty metropolis captured much of what the author saw as the true spirit of the city In 1980 French Magnum photographer Raymond Depardon was commissioned by The Sunday Times Magazine to photograph Scotland’s largest city: Glasgow, on the River Clyde. The city has long been known for its architectural heritage – from its majestic Victorian squares to stern rows of tenements and brutal industrial giants – much of this building being the product of the city’s great Victorian-era wealth. However, in spite of this prosperous past and the city’s pivotal role in Britain’s industrial and cultural development, numerous areas of Glasgow were – at the time of Depardon’s visit – poverty stricken. The photographer focused his work on Glasgow’s famed slums and dock areas, capturing the imposing architecture and broad vistas, as well as the resilient nature of the city’s inhabitants. The work resulted in the book Glasgow, published by Editions du Seuil in 2016. The following essay, by best-selling author William Boyd, appeared as the book’s foreword. 

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