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J. Craig Annan 
The Church or the World 
[Die Kunst in der Photographie (Art Folio #5)] 
1893 (taken) 1900 (photogravure) 
  
Photogravure, Chine-collé 
14.9 x 18.7 cm 
  
Photoseed 
Photograph courtesy PhotoSeed.com 
  
 
LL/18694 
  
James Craig Annan (Glasgow)
 
Heliographed (Plate) : James Craig Annan of T. & R. Annan & Sons, Glasgow
 
Printed (Druck) by: Georg Buxenstein & Comp. (Berlin)
 
Printed title on plate: The Church And the World (sic)
 
The author William Buchanan (1994) comments on this photograph: "The title The Church or the World could suggest a late Pre-Raphaelite canvas by Holman Hunt. A girl, seated on a pony, is attended by two robed figures. She has arrived at a moment of consequence: she must decide between embracing religious vows or remaining in the frivolous world. From the start the fates conspired against Annan's unfortunate print. In the way of picture titles it often appeared incorrectly. The Church and the World gives a very different connotation to the scenario. Annan's occasional fondness for printing an image in reverse also worked against it. As a result she became a most indecisive lady. Sometimes she faced one way, sometimes the other. In France, Demachy praised it...(translation: "he successfully overcomes one of the greatest difficulties in photography: allegory...However it took all the artistry and subtlety of this remarkably gifted artist to obtain this result"). (p. 6-7)
 
Buchanan (1992), writing in an earlier publication The Art of the Photographer - J. Craig Annan 1864-1946 writes: "To produce what could be classified as costume pieces Annan sometimes used members of the local dramatic society."..."One of the earliest and most unfortunate is The Church or the World of 1893 with its allegorical pretensions." (1992: p.23) Writing in Camera Notes the year this example was published, (1900) Joseph Keiley reported the cuteness of the pony (1994: p.7) and called it the "sheerest travesty". (1992: p. 23).
 
A different perspective of the photo is put forth by Edmond Sacré, a photographer and member of L'Association Belge de Photographie. Writing in 1897, Sacré reviews the photo for the Bulletin de l'Association Belge de Photographie: "Let us stop for a moment at the three works in which there is a search for composition, and a philosophical or symbolic idea. In this category belongs the print entitled The Church or the World. Because of its rather sombre aspect, you could not grasp at once what the author wanted to portray... It is of a young girl in white, with a crown of flowers. She is looking straight at you and is seated on a small grey horse near to which are two monks, with hoods. The location is a forest interior in a mysterious setting and light...We love the work because of the effort that has been put into the aim of creating an idea whose concept is not perfect, but is nevertheless not without merit...". (Buchanan 1994: p.76-77)
 
And finally, Weston Naef weighs in with this observation: "In style and content this image is diametrically opposite Cat. 11 (The Road Through the Dunes - see an example in this gallery) and represents Annan's flirtation with the anti-naturalistic mode of photography, an aspect that made him appealing to the Munich Secession of 1898. The posed quality reappears in Annan's portraits, suggesting the possibility of retaining two styles simultaneously, which duplicated Stieglitz's vacillation between posed and natural subjects during 1887-1899." (Naef 1978: p.261)
 
Sources
 
Buchanan, William 1992, The Art of the Photographer J. Craig Annan 1864-1946, (National Galleries of Scotland)
 
Buchanan, William 1994, J. Craig Annan, International Pictorialist' In J. Craig Annan: Selected texts and bibliography Edited by William Buchanan (Oxford, England: Clio Press)
 
Naef, Weston J. 1978, The Collection of Alfred Stieglitz: Fifty Pioneers of Modern Photography (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) 
 

 
  
 
  
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