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At Beccles Davies, G. Christopher  (British, 1849-1922)

Davies, G C, Thomas Annan, and R. Annan. The Scenery of the Broads and Rivers of Norfolk and Suffolk: [first-second Series]. London: Jarrold, 1883 Portfolio containing twenty-four photogravures each with printed credit Engraved by T. & R. Annan, Glasgow within plate mark and with typescript title labels on mounts. Exact date is unknown. Davies, a prolific writer of guide books to East Anglia, illustrated this work from his own photographs, which were printed in the photogravure process by T. & R. Annan. This work predates the published books of P.H. Emerson. Initially, in 1883, Jarrold and Sons, published by subscription. A portfolio of 24 photogravure plates with text by Davies; the photogravure plates printed by T. & R. Annan, in an edition of 25 sets on India paper, and 250 sets on etching paper. Soon after, a second series was issued with the same title and edition size. What can be assumed is that sales of the 2 separate portfolios were weak, given the scarcity of extant copies and that Jarrold & Sons issued the complete 48 plates bound together in 1889, as stated on p. 40 in the biography of Davies: Campbell, Jamie & Cliff Middleton.[Scenery Broads Rivers Norfolk Suffolk]

Davies was a gifted amateur and the first to photograph the Broads extensively. His work predated Peter Henry Emerson by a few years and some say prefigured it. He worked with a small 4”X6” camera with dry plates which could be processed long after the exposure in the camera. His first book of photographs of the Broads was published in 1883 and included 12 photogravures that are different than the ones in this set. James Annan, Thomas Annan’s son traveled to Vienna to study photogravure with the inventor Karl Klic in 1883. The gravures done for Davies would be some of the earliest by the firm. They exhibit a soft tonality different from the grainier, contrastier print quality used in the United States when photogravure first appeared here in the mid 1880’s. Davies’ biographer, Cliff Middleton, states that he believes that the Annan’s added clouds to the photographs, but in examining all 48 published in “The man who found the Broads,” none of the cloudscapes are duplicated. Also, because the dry plate was sensitive over a wider range of color spectrum than the wet plate and that the resultant negative was much less contrasty allowing for a better sky rendition, I am not sure I could agree with his assessment. Hanson


Middleton C, The Broadland Photographers : The Photographs of J. Payne Jennings P. H. Emerson and George Christopher Davies. Norwich Eng: Wensum Books; 1978.