James Craig Annan, the second son of acclaimed Scottish photographer Thomas Annan and his wife Mary, was born on March 8, 1864 in Hamilton, a town in the Scottish Lowlands. After attending Hamilton Academy, Annan attended Anderson's College in Glasgow, where he majored in natural philosophy and chemistry.
However, he eventually embraced the family business of photography, and in 1883, Mr. Annan traveled to Vienna, where he learned the new and exciting process of etching known as photogravure from its inventor, Karl Klic. Mr. Annan quickly mastered this technique, and after his father's death in 1887 he returned home to become a partner in the family's photographic business, T and R Annan. Mr. Annan began making his own photogravure prints three years' later, and examples of his photographic reproductions can be found in the volume Sir Henry Raeburn: A Selection of his Portraits.
During the early 1890s, Mr. Annan traveled extensively through Europe with his friend, painter David Young Cameron. An 1894 visit to Northern Italy resulted in a folio entitled Venice and Lombardy, which consisted of eleven photogravures. That same year, Mr. Annan was elected to the prestigious international photographers group, The Linked Ring.
Mr. Annan's artistic philosophy relied heavily upon being inspired by his surroundings, and his moving portraits received high praise from the public and his fellow photographers. In 1900, Mr. Annan's works were featured in the first ever one-man show held by the Royal Photographic Society. In the early twentieth century, his works were exhibited in the major cities of Europe and the United States.
So respected was Mr. Annan's works that they were frequently featured in popular photographic publications of the period. One of Mr. Annan's greatest admirers was the famed American photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Many of Mr. Annan's photographs were published in Stieglitz's Camera Work magazine. Mr. Stieglitz was the proud owner of sixty Annan photographs, and when Mr. Annan began experimenting with a hand-held camera, he inspired Mr. Stieglitz to do the same.
A lifelong bachelor, Mr. Annan continued to inspire fledgling photographers with his innovative uses of the latest camera equipment throughout the early twentieth century. He died at his home in Lenzie, Scotland on July 6, 1946. Collections of Mr. Annan's works are proudly displayed in such places as New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hamburg's Museum fur Kunst and Gewerbe, and the Royal Photographic Society.
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