Between 1800 and 1860 the population of Glasgow increased more than five-fold to around 420,000. While the richer citizens moved to the suburbs, the influx of migrants from Ireland and the Highlands caused massive overpopulation in the inner city. There were two types of working-class housing; the ‘made down houses' - former middle class homes where each room might house an entire family - and traditional tenements, often without running water or sanitation. In 1866 the City Improvement Trust was tasked with demolishing the old buildings and replacing them with wider roads and larger tenements. Although these slum clearances in part shifted the problem of overcrowding to other areas, they did wipe out epidemic diseases such as cholera and typhus.
After the city passed an act through parliament to demolish the slums of central Glasgow in 1866, Thomas Annan was asked to record the buildings that were coming down. He worked in conditions as bad for photography as they were for humans and took only about thirty successful photographs in the three years he spent on the commission.
When an individual or organisation employs an artist to execute a particular project, the process and the resulting work are termed a ‘commission’.
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.
Carbon, Engraving, Lithograph, Patent
The first 'permanent' version of photography in which the image was made in a relief layer of sensitised gelatine. Dye colour, generally brown, was added to make the image visible.
The printmaking technique in which an image is inscribed on a copper plate with a tool that cuts a groove in the surface. This groove holds the ink that creates the print when it is applied to paper. Also refers to the method of making an incision on a material such as glass.
A printmaking technique using a stone or zinc plate to which the image is applied with a greasy material. After wetting the plate, greasy ink is applied. The ink sticks only to the drawn image and not the wet surface, thus creating a reproduction when applied to paper.
The right granted to the creator of an invention or an idea to produce, use and sell that invention for a defined period of time.