In Norwich a typical old yard or court (the terms are interchangeable) was located behind an ancient building which fronted the street. It was entered through a narrow opening, often tunnel-like which led to a cul-de-sac. Around its perimeter were shoddy dwellings, often formed out of larger houses, which shared inadequate water supplies and toilets. Occupants living in yards suffered from both a lack of ventilation and dismal light. Here Emanuel has depicted one of the many alleyways that joined these yards, fronting onto the River Wensum on which Norwich stands. A woman awaits the return of a boatman, perhaps returning from one of the many watermills that were operational there at the time.
Frank Lewis Emanuel, also known as Frank L Emanuel, was a painter, printmaker, draughtsman and writer. He spent most of his life in his hometown of London. Born in Bayswater in 1865, the artist died only a twenty minute walk away in Kensington in 1948.
In his youth the artist assisted in classes at the University College London. Later on he studied under Alphonse Legros, at the Slade School of Fine Art, and under William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury at the Académie Julian in Paris.
Emanuel had a varied career and travelled widely in Europe (including France, Belgium and the Netherlands), Africa and Ceylon.
Emanuel was the founder and Honorary Secretary of the Society of Graphic Art, a member of the Society of Marine Artists and worked as an examiner for the Royal Drawing Society. He also taught etching at the public school ofThe Central School of Arts & Crafts between 1928 and 1930. This school would later become the London Institute in 1986 and would merge with Saint Martin’s School of Art to form Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in 1989.
Emanuel exhibited in several main galleries including at the Royal Academy from 1886. Indeed, he exhibited here almost annually for over forty years. He also exhibited at Walker Art Gallery, Manchester Academy of Fine Art, New English Art Club and the Paris Salon.
His work was further popularised through his publication of postcards by the well-known firm Raphael Tuck & Sons.
Emanuel’s work is currently held by institutions including the Tate Gallery, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ashmolean Musuem, the Imperial War Museum, Guildhall Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum.