The picture exemplifies Emerson’s early interest in capturing picturesque scenes of everyday rural life with the precision and clarity which the latest photographic technology allowed. The use of a platinum print offered wide tonal variation for rendering details and the technique allowed for long-lasting clarity, meaning that much of the detail is preserved today.
The image is among the highlights from Life and Landscape, the focus of the show at Michael Hoppen, along with images from Emerson’s most famous series, Marsh Leaves (1895).
Organised with fellow photography specialist Robert Hershkowitz, the exhibition showcases these bucolic scenes at a time when, says the gallery, “so many of us are weighing up the value of urban living in favour of countryside existences”. It runs until January 31.
Emerson was among the early photographers to use the medium as an art form. He trained his lens on rural settings, especially the agrarian communities of East Anglia. As his career progressed, he steered away both from both sharp and soft focus, seeking to replicate instead the human-eye’s view of the world.
Following the publication of Marsh Leaves, he published no further pictures, focusing instead on writing about the medium. He argued against composite prints and the manipulation of negatives, promoting ‘truthfulness’ as the most important aspect of photographic images.
Works are available to view online. Contact the gallery for future viewing appointments (given current Covid-19 restrictions).