Peter Henry Emerson

(1856—1936) photographer and writer

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George Davison (1855—1930) photographer, political activist, and patron of the arts



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(1856–1936), British photographer and theorist, born in Cuba and raised in Delaware and England. He read medicine and natural science at Cambridge, and took up photography in 1882. He lectured and wrote on art photography from 1885, codifying his theories in Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art (1889). Emerson's work showed the influence of naturalism in art, encouraged by the painter Thomas Goodall, his collaborator on an album of platinotypes, Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads (1887). Subsequent monographs, illustrated in photogravure, included Pictures of East Anglian Life (1888), Wild Life on a Tidal Water (1890), and Marsh Leaves (1895). His last publication was a revised edition of Naturalistic Photography (1899), amended to disclaim photography's artistic pretensions, and expressed in typically intemperate language. His prickly relations with photographers like George Davison kept Emerson out of new associations like the Linked Ring Brotherhood. Instead, he remained loyal to the Royal Photographic Society, which honoured him with his last exhibition, a retrospective, in 1900. In 1933, he recorded that he had written a ‘true history’ of artistic photography, but the manuscript is lost.

From The Oxford Companion to the Photograph in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Photography and Photographs.

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