Thomas Annan

'Ben Lomond from Aberfoyle' (About 1860)

About this artwork

This photograph shows a rather nostalgic view westwards from the village of Aberfoyle, on the dividing line between the Highlands and Lowlands. To the right of Ben Lomond are the lands of Craigrostan, which once belonged to Rob Roy. A famous character in Scottish history, Rob Roy MacGregor was a cattle trader who, as a result of business failure and switching political sympathies, lost his lands and became an outlaw and rebel. His reputation as a folk hero took on mythical proportions after the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s romanticised version of his life in 1817, and this photograph would certainly have been interpreted in that context. Before Scott’s visits to the area, Aberfoyle was small and insignificant, but the success of his novels led to a sudden increase in visitors.

Thomas Annan

Thomas Annan

Having begun his career as a lithographic writer and engraver on a local newspaper in Fife, Thomas Annan set up a studio as a professional photographer in 1855. He founded his own photographic printing works in Hamilton in 1859 and by 1862 had begun to establish a reputation for photographing works of art. In 1866 he purchased the carbon process patent rights for Scotland and in 1883 he secured the British rights for photogravure. Between 1868 and 1871 he executed a commission from the City of Glasgow to photograph the slums of the old town before their demolition.