Thomas Annan

Saltmarket from Bridgegate (1868 - 1871)

About this artwork

In 1868 the City of Glasgow commissioned Thomas Annan to photograph the old town before improvement works could proceed. Annan did not find this an easy assignment due to the poor working conditions - light was almost entirely absent from the built-up and overcrowded closes of the slums. There, nevertheless, must have been humorous moments like the one recorded in this picture when the photographer was evidently struggling to get a clear view of the street while facing an overwhelming and curious crowd.

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.