Pictures of East Anglian Life

Photograph
1888 (made), 1890 (published)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In 1889 Emerson published his controversial book Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art without images. Naturalistic Photography examined his purist approach to photography, derived from his fascination with Naturalism in art, and attacked the prevailing artificial aesthetic in art photography. After its publication Emerson felt that his opponents had misunderstood his ideas. So, in 1890 he selected 10 plates from his book Pictures of East Anglian Life (1888) that best illustrated his theories, and presented them loose in a portfolio dedicated to the ‘photographic student’, with the same title and cover of the book. He then donated copies of this portfolio to every photographic society in the country.

In the note ‘To the Student’, pasted to the inside cover of the Pictures of East Anglian Life portfolio, Emerson declares that, out of the 10 plates selected, the image Where Winds the Dike is the second most successful in portraying his theories on focussing. ‘The whole picture is [deliberately] out of focus’, Emerson writes. He also maintains that no lens yet made could give this effect, perhaps emphasizing his artistic eye.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Brief Description
Photograph, 'Where winds the Dike', by Peter Henry Emerson, photogravure, Plate 7, from the 'Pictures of East Anglian Life' portfolio, 1890
Physical Description
A mounted black and white photograph showing a small bridge
Dimensions
  • Image height: 12cm
  • Image width: 14.8cm
  • Paper height: 34cm
  • Paper width: 42.5cm
Object history
A portfolio containing 10 India proofs taken from the eponymous book (1888, 32 photogravures), published as a companion to his other book 'Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art' (1889). With preface and Notes to the Student in the inside cover of the portfolio folder. Gift of the photographer 1890, transferred from the Print Collection, 1896
Subject depicted
Summary
In 1889 Emerson published his controversial book Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art without images. Naturalistic Photography examined his purist approach to photography, derived from his fascination with Naturalism in art, and attacked the prevailing artificial aesthetic in art photography. After its publication Emerson felt that his opponents had misunderstood his ideas. So, in 1890 he selected 10 plates from his book Pictures of East Anglian Life (1888) that best illustrated his theories, and presented them loose in a portfolio dedicated to the ‘photographic student’, with the same title and cover of the book. He then donated copies of this portfolio to every photographic society in the country.



In the note ‘To the Student’, pasted to the inside cover of the Pictures of East Anglian Life portfolio, Emerson declares that, out of the 10 plates selected, the image Where Winds the Dike is the second most successful in portraying his theories on focussing. ‘The whole picture is [deliberately] out of focus’, Emerson writes. He also maintains that no lens yet made could give this effect, perhaps emphasizing his artistic eye.
Associated Objects
Bibliographic Reference
John Taylor The old order and the new: P H Emerson and photography, 1885-1895 Munich; New York; London: Prestel, 2006. 160p.: ill (some col). ISBN: 3791336991 / 9783791336992.
Collection
Accession Number
E.164-2015

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record createdMay 11, 2015
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