Ploughing on the Campagnetta Annan, James Craig  (Scottish, 1864-1946)

A Lombardy Pastoral and Ploughing on the Campagnetta have been seen as Annan’s personal explorations of the current Realist movement which involved an interest in working life seen honestly. The two images typify the strong British interest in idyllic landscapes with farmer, trees and animals, but while British landscapes were represented as ‘remnants of a primitive past chat remained on the fringes of the modern nation. A Lombardy Pastoral has a long horizontal shape probably influenced by Japanese art. The format was unusual in nineteenth-century photography but much appreciated by the critics, ‘A Lombardy Pastoral is the example of the long narrow pictures which the artist affects is among the best of the examples in the room’

Since the early nineties James Craig Annan had been one of the chief forces in the development of pictorial photography. This portfolio of prints is his masterpiece. Limited to an edition of 75, the eleven plates include some of Annan’s most sophisticated and celebrated early work. The small photogravures masterfully etched and printed by Annan himself on Japan tissue and individually signed, explore for the first time the instantaneous moments accessible only to the camera combined with the control, art and craft of traditional etching. The tension between photography emulating painting and a truthful photography able to represent a new art form is clearly visible in Venice and Lombardy and reveals Annan’s ability to articulate the most advanced issues of his time. The portfolio, according to Ken Jacobson, contains signed, tiny, gem-like photogravures that might be seen as the precursor for the style of Camera Work – Stieglitz’s widely praised journal, vehicle of modern photography and photogravure tour-de-force. Stieglitz greatly admired Annan and was certainly influenced by this work.

Reproduced / Exhibited

Buchanan, William, and J C. Annan. The Art of the Photographer: J. Craig Annan, 1864-1946. Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 1992. plate 10.

Naef, Weston J. The Collection of Alfred Stieglitz: Fifty Pioneers of Modern Photography. New York: Viking Press, 1978. no. 18.


Buchanan, William. J. Craig Annan: Selected Texts and Bibliography. Oxford: Clio Press, 1994. fig. 9. P. 8 and p 83

Bologna, Gabriella, ‘The Aesthetics of British Photography. A Case Study: James Craig Annan’s Portfolio Venice and Lombardy’ in Anon. 2013. Aesthetic Lives : ‘New Experiences New Subjects of Poetry New Forms of Art’. High Wycombe Bucks England: Rivendale Press