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James Craig Annan

JAMES CRAIG ANNAN was a master photogravure printer and a leading pictorialist photographer around the turn of the twentieth century. He produced most of his own work as well as that of others in the photogravure process, which he learned from its inventor, Karl Klíc.

Annan was the son of photographer Thomas Annan, known for his early documentation of the slums of Glasgow. He joined his father's business at a young age and began assisting in studio portraiture and photographic reproductions of artwork. In 1883, he and his father traveled to Vienna to study with Klíc, T. & R. Annan and Sons of Glasgow soon became Britain's foremost gravure printing establishments.

Annan became popular as a professional portrait photographer but also produced personal work, primarily portraits and genre scenes. In 1894 he was elected to The Linked Ring, England's most prestigious group of creative photographers. A few years later he published a limited-edition portfolio of his work, Venice and Lombardy: A Series of Original Photogravues. He exhibited widely, at such venues as the London salon, the 1901 Glasgow international Exhibition, Alfred Stieglitz's Photo-Secession Galleries, the Paris salon and the 1910 International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography at the Albright Art Gallery in Buffalo. In 1900, Annan was given a one-person retrospective at the Royal Photographic Society, which subsequently awarded him an honorary fellowship, its highest membership level.

Unlike other photographers, Annan supplied his own photogravures for Camera Notes (1898-1903), the top photographic periodical in the United States at the time. Shortly thereafter, when Stieglitz began publishing the even more sumptuous journal Camera Work, Annan continued to contribute his own work plus gravures by other British photographers such as George Davision. Stieglitz included 25 of Annan's photogravures in the magazine and devoted the entire January 1914 (No. 45) issue to him.

Annan rediscovered the work of other photographers and oversaw the production of intaglio prints by contemporary artists. He printed from the negatives of Hill and Adamson, for instance, creating renewed interest in their work. At T. & R. Annan he supervised the printing of etchings and engravings by such artists as Muirhead Bone and William Strang. Annan and Alfred Stieglitz were exact contemporaries with a shared commitment to high-quality gravure printing and photography as a fine art. For over 20 years they corresponded about matters both personal and professional.

James Craig Annan, The Etching Printer
James Craig Annan, 1864 - 1946. Denotes An Original
The Etching Printer. 1907.
Photogravure print.
15 x 9.6 cm