Peter Henry Emerson (British, born Cuba, 1856–1936)
Platinum print from glass negative
Image: 13.8 x 27.9 cm (5 7/16 x 11 in.) Mount: 28.6 x 41 cm (11 1/4 x 16 1/8 in.) Sheet (Interleaving Plate Sheet): 28.2 x 40.8 cm (11 1/8 x 16 1/16 in.)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Mrs. Walter Annenberg and The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 2005
Not on view
Emerson immersed himself in the culture of East Anglia, featuring the marshy coastal region northeast of London in more than half a dozen photographically illustrated books during his ten-year photographic career. This print was included in his first publication, Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads, made with Goodall, a painter. Emerson and Goodall drew their subjects from an examination—at once personal and anthropological—of the environment and daily rituals of rural East Anglian life. In keeping with his interest in naturalism, Emerson tried to simulate human vision by rendering his views slightly out of focus at the periphery. This use of selective focus subtly intensifies the isolation of a laborer resting on his way home from harvesting schoof-stuff, a coarse straw. The muted tonality of platinum printing further infuses the scene with a hushed reverence. By insisting on an impressionistic vision, Emerson cleared a path that would be followed by many modern photographers.
Inscription: Letterpress on interleaving sheet affixed to mount recto, C: "PLATE XXI. // ROWING HOME THE SCHOOF-STUFF [second line italicized]"
[Helios, Arts Inc.]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, October 25,1978
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 59," May 15, 2012–September 9, 2012.
Turner, Peter, and Richard Wood. P. H. Emerson: Photographer of Norfolk. Boston: D. R. Godine, 1974. pp. 26.
Newhall, Nancy. P.H. Emerson : the fight for photography as a fine art. Aperture ed. New York, 1975. p. 146.