Thomas Annan

Trongate from Tron Steeple (1868 - 1871)

About this artwork

In 1868 Annan was commissioned to record the old closes and streets of Glasgow prior to their demolition. Light hardly ever stole into the narrow closes, whereas here the photographer has the benefit of a bird's eye view. The broad avenue, washed clean by recent rain, appears far more presentable than the squalid courts hiding behind the facades of the tall buildings. This is deceptive: a closer look reveals how run-down the buildings are and the washing sitting out on windowsills speaks of the overcrowded conditions in which the inhabitants live.

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.