A Black Canal Annan, James Craig  (Scottish, 1864-1946)

Until we learn more about the subject of art photogravure, James Annan remains its greatest commercial practitioner, particularly in the direction of miniaturist clarity as opposed to the soft smoky atmosphere of the pictorialists which begins with the restrained in-and-out-of-focus attitude of Peter Emerson, the medium’s greatest private practitioner and the father of 20th century photography.  (Sam Wagstaff)

James Craig Annan brought the art of photogravure to its highest levels of achievement. This print combines the tonal subtleties of this process with the drama of a shrewdly observed and framed moment, caught spontaneously.

Here we have an instance of the choice of subject which would not be seen at all by the ordinary (i. e. unobservant) camera man. And it will be noticed that the part which the ordinary individual would trim away has been retained, while the part most likely to be retained has been omitted. These facts in some degree contribute to its interest and freshness, or what was freshness in ’93; for alas! it is one of (the pictures which since then has been ‘flattered’ by countless imitators – of course with but very indifferent success. We are indisposed to complain of our artist here having retained even yet too much subject. The many broken reflections are inclined to confuse rather than please the eye, although at the same time abound with interesting phases of light and shade effects.  The Pictorial Work of J. Craig Annan F. C. Lambert The Practical Photographer, Library Series, no. 13, (1904), p. 1-5

Published:

John Taylor, Pictorial Photography in Britain 1900-1920, London, 1978, pl. 19, p. 52;

William Buchanan, The Art of the Photographer J. Craig Annan 1864-1946, National Galleries of Scotland, 1992, pl. 28.