Annan’s personal exploration of the Realist movement which involved an interest in working life seen honestly. The photograph of ploughing was so effectively natural that Annan was forced to explain that it was indeed calculated. The teams of oxen happened to occupy the fortunate positions they do in the picture, but it was only after watching them plough furrow after furrow that I chanced to make the exposure. (see “Mr. Craig Annan’s Address at the opening of Exhibition of his Works at the Royal Photographic Society” The Amateur Photographer: An Illustrated Popular Journal. London: Hazell, Watson and Viney, 1884. Print. 2 Feb 1900 p. 83)
Indicative of Stieglitz’s regard for Annan’s work, Lombardy Ploughing Team, is part of a group of pastoral scenes made in Italy. Though set in another country, the image represents Annan’s personal exploration of the current Realist movement which involved an interest in working life seen honestly. Lombardy Ploughing Team typifies the strong British interest in idyllic landscapes, complete with farmer, trees, and animals. Lombardy Ploughing Team presents an idealized vison of rural life that previously had been painted by Barbizon artists and was currently promoted by members of the English arts and crafts movement. Annan avoided the mundane in this image, however, by utilizing an unorthodox pictures shape, probably influenced by Japanese art. Peterson, Christian A. Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Notes. Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1993. Print.
His Lombardy Ploughing Team is unrivalled in force and color. The group of oxen seen from behind is superb, as is their driver, viewed from beneath the shade of the trees, where, between the foliage, the sun throws bursts of light. In the background other groups of cattle are harnessed and ploughing the land. A majestic chain of mountains rises up hazily on the horizon. It is a grandiose scene, and, by the way it has been presented on the page, a real picture. Edmond Sacre. ‘Exposition des Oeuvres de Craig Annan de Glasgow’. Bulletin de Association Beige de Photographic vol. 24, no. 6 (June 1897), p. 405-17. Translation from French