Peter Henry Emerson
English, born Cuba, 1856-1936
217 photographs (platinum prints & photogravures)
ca. 1883 Ė ca. 1886


P.H. Emerson was born in Cuba. His mother was British and his father was an American plantation owner. He spent his early youth in the northeastern United States and moved to England in 1869. He was schooled at Cambridge and received his medical degree in 1885. Emerson abandoned his medical career in 1886 to devote himself to writing and photographing for Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads.

Between 1886 and 1895 Emerson published eight photographic portfolios or books. Though he continued to photograph, he did not exhibit or publish his work after 1900. He was preparing a history of pictorial photography when he died in Falmouth in 1936.

Bibliographic References:

Newhall, Nancy. P.H. Emerson: The Fight for Photography as a Fine Art. New York: Aperture, 1975.

Turner, Peter and Richard Wood. P.H. Emerson: Photographer of Norfolk. Boston: David R. Godine, 1974.

The museumís holdings for Emerson includes a complete set of platinum prints from Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads, 1886 (loose plates from the book held in the library); a complete set of photogravures from Pictures of East Anglian Life, 1888; and 97 platinum prints by Emerson, many unpublished in any of his works. Among these are genre scenes, landscapes, and 7 images from Cuba, ca. 1883.

The following books illustrated with photogravures by P.H. Emerson are in the Museumís library:

The Complete Angler, Vol. 1 & 2, 1888 (also includes
Plates by George Bankhart Ė plates 30-54.)
Pictures of East Anglian Life, 1888.
Wild Life on a Tidal Water, 1890.
On English Lagoons, 1893.
Marsh Leaves, 1895.

Emersonís photographs were obtained from a variety of sources. Photogravures from Pictures of East Anglian Life were obtained in 1951 from Alden Scott Boyer. Gifts from Emersonís nephew, Dr. William C. Emerson, came to the museum in May of 1953 and September of 1959, and represent the largest portion of the collection. Books in the library have been purchased or exchanged from a variety of sources.

Del Zogg, 11/95