ANNAN, Thomas (1829-1887)
The Old Closes & Streets of Glasgow ... With an Introduction by William Young
Glasgow: James MacLehose and Sons, 1900. Large quarto. (14 3/4 x 10 3/4 inches). 23, pp. 50 warm-toned photogravure plates after photographs by Annan.
Publisher's rose cloth, upper cover with the arms of Glasgow in gilt, spine lettered in gilt
A classic work of early photographic literature: one of 100 copies.
"When Thomas Annan was commissioned by the Glasgow Improvement Trust in the mid-1860s to document the older, working class areas of the Scottish city, it was not because his photographs might be utilized in a campaign to alleviate social conditions in these areas ... Rather, Annan was commissioned to record the historical fabric of the old streets before they were replaced by more modern housing ... Despite the penchant for photographing picturesque antiquity, Annan's masterpiece is relatively rare in nineteenth-century British photography, a public commission recording humble city landmarks that were about to disappear ... It is the consistently narrow form of the alley that gives formal coherency to most of Annan's imagery ... This lends the pictures an irresistible rhythm, a sense of leading somewhere. Coupled with the numerous glimpses of the closes' indigenous inhabitants, the device makes these compelling pictures amongst the most intimate and 'modern' in feeling of nineteenth-century documents" (Parr & Badger).
"Illustrated with 50 photogravures on rag paper after photographs by Thomas Annan. Thirty-eight of these were taken in 1868, 1 in 1885 and 11 between 1897 and 1899, all portraying closes and old buildings on or off High Street, the Gorbals, the Salt Market, etc. Annan's architectural views often contain incidental portraits of the inhabitants. These subjects from the working class districts have caused some to read into them the intent of social consciousness. One hundred copies were specially printed for the Corporation of Glasgow in a cloth binding, gilt embossed with the arms of the city" (Truthful Lens).
The present issue, in the rose cloth binding printed specially for the Corporation of Glasgow, is more desirable, printed on better quality paper than the issue in blue cloth.
Truthful Lens 4; Parr & Badger I:p. 49.