Stirling Castle Annan, James Craig  (Scottish, 1864-1946)

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. p. 96 D.Y. Cameron, An Artist’s Notes on Mr. J. Craig Annan’s Pictures

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.  His friend, D. Y. Cameron, with a special insight, described his photography as ‘reticent, reserved, weird, and tenderly beautiful.  (see WB p. 28)

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)