Thomas Annan (1829-1887) was the preeminent photographer of Glasgow in the mid-nineteenth century, a period when the rise in industry and population dramatically altered the landscape of the "second city" of the British Empire. Often working in conjunction with civic projects, Annan produced numerous series that underscore the transformation of the city and its environs, though he remains best known for one series in particular: a group of enigmatic photographs of central Glasgow alleys, or "closes," on the verge of demolition. These haunting images, made between 1868 and 1871, and sometimes regarded as precursors of the documentary tradition in photography, represent the notion of progress that underpins much of Annan's oeuvre. Annan's publication history serves as the organizing principle for this book, which considers both the breadth of his body of work as well as the multiple formats in which his photographs appeared and circulated.
Featured here are seven examplesincluding private albums and commercial booksthat focus on subjects as varied as the city's streets and closes, the Loch Katrine aqueduct, Glasgow College, the cathedral, and the country estates of the landed gentry, and highlight Annan's extensive engagement with the city of Glasgow. Plates from each of these works are faithfully reproduced in full color, and an introductory essay by the leading authority on Annan surveys the life and career of this little-known but influential photographer.
Amanda Maddox is assistant curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. She is the author of Ishiuchi Miyako: Postwar Shadows (Getty Publications, 2015). Sara Stevenson is an independent curator/historian specializing in Scottish photography and senior research fellow at the University of Glasgow. She is a former guest scholar in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.