The Dark Mountains

James Craig Annan British, Scottish

Not on view

The son of the photographer Thomas Annan, James Craig Annan was among the most admired of the first generation of European Pictorialist photographers and was likely the first photographer that Stieglitz collected. He apprenticed in his father’s photographic printing business and early on mastered the potential of photogravure as a direct and expressive means of printing his photographs, as demonstrated in this picture taken in the Scottish Highlands. The Dark Mountains was described by critics at the time as "weird and solemn," "full of grim purpose," and evoking "Dantesque dreams, ideas of massive, awful grandeur, unknown threatening dangers." With its silhouetted figures facing a vast Scottish landscape, Annan’s image recalls the eighteenth-century aesthetic of the Sublime in nature and embodies the Romantic sensibility of painters such as Caspar David Friedrich and J. M. W. Turner.

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