His work is true to his country, reticent, reserved, weird, and tenderly beautiful, rather than inspired by the gorgeous or the grandiose and florid of a dreamer under sunnier skies.
A superb example of Annan’s skill in photogravure. Stirling Castle on its imposing Scottish crag. In the foreground a white horse moves tentatively into the shadow of a farm building. A major monument has thus become no more than a setting for a transient incident: a moment which caught Annan’s eye. (Jeffries 98) Its range of tones, ‘from silver to velvet’ was noted by Photograms of the Year in 1906 when it hung in the salon.
The photograph is no commercial tourist view of Stirling Castle as produced by other photographers and painters of the time. The castle appears grandly romantic atop its volcanic crag, but it merely oversees the farmyard beneath. Annan is interested in the roofs of the farm building, the way the tiles come round the circular roof on the work-mill, the way the tiles fit together, the pattern they make. A white horse stands alone in the yard. It seems to echo the white clouds of the sky. Perhaps it has just landed from one of them.
Annan had strong views about explaining art: that it should strike a ‘sympathetic chord and give pleasure… but if it does not, no amount of argument will enable him to realize and enjoy the artistic intention of the producer’ (Buchanan)
This large print is an earlier stage (possibly) variant of the print held in The National Galleries of Scotland. https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/27552/stirling-castle
Buchanan, William, and J C. Annan. The Art of the Photographer: J. Craig Annan, 1864-1946. Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 1992. (cover)
Doty, Robert M. Photo-secession: Photography As a Fine Art. N.Y: Eastman, 1960. plate XXVII.
Haworth-Booth, Mark. The Golden Age of British Photography, 1839-1900: Photographs from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London [and Others]. New York: Aperture, 1984 p. 175
Harker, Margaret F. The Linked Ring: The Secession Movement in Photography in Britain, 1892-1910. London: Heinemann, 1979. pl 9.5 (alt)
Kruse, Margret. Kunstphotographie Um 1900: D. Sammlung Ernst Juhl; Hamburg: Museum für Kunst u. Gewerbe, 1989 pl. 22
Jeffrey, Ian. Photography: A Concise History. London: Thames and Hudson, 1981. no. 53.
Sandler, Martin W. Photography: An Illustrated History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. p. 45
Simpson, Roddy. The Photography of Victorian Scotland. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013.p. 189
Weaver, Mike. The Photographic Art: Pictorial Traditions in Britain and America. Edinburgh, 1986. no. 31
Buchanan, William. J. Craig Annan: Selected Texts and Bibliography. Oxford: Clio Press, 1994. fig. 12
D.Y. Cameron, An Artist’s Notes on Mr. J. Craig Annan’s Pictures p. 96