Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Photograph - A Toad in the Path - Early Spring in Norfolk
  • A Toad in the Path - Early Spring in Norfolk
    Emerson, Peter Henry, born 1856 - died 1936
  • Enlarge image

A Toad in the Path - Early Spring in Norfolk

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    East Anglia (photographed)
    England (photographed)

  • Date:

    1888 (made)
    1890 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Emerson, Peter Henry, born 1856 - died 1936 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Found In Department

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 418, box C

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.

Similar to the image The Skirt of the Village that features in the Idyls of the Norfolk Broads portfolio (published in 1887), here Emerson refers to something that cannot be seen. A toad, of which there is no presence in the print, has caught the attention of two children while they are walking. This image also shows Emerson’s predilection for photographing subjects who seem to be unaware of the presence of his camera.

Physical description

A mounted black and white photograph showing 2 children in a path

Place of Origin

East Anglia (photographed)
England (photographed)


1888 (made)
1890 (published)


Emerson, Peter Henry, born 1856 - died 1936 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 16 cm image, Width: 26 cm image, Height: 32.5 cm paper, Width: 42.2 cm paper

Object history note

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

Descriptive line

Photograph, 'A Toad in the Path - Early Spring in Norfolk', by Peter Henry Emerson, photogravure, Plate 9, from the 'Pictures of East Anglian Life' portfolio, 1890

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

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.

Subjects depicted

Subject; Children; Path




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.