This is a wonderful painting of a fair in Southend, showing bright coloured wagons, tents and amusements of the travelling company. By the end of the Victorian era the landscape of the fairground was populated by rides of all kinds: steam yachts, switchbacks and of course the merry-go-round, an example of which is prominent in Emanuel’s painting.
Mechanisation made the fairground appear modern and futuristic, and they were greeted with great excitement by the local population. The golden age of the fairground had arrived and by the end of the nineteenth century fairs were no longer in decline and many events were taking place in the United Kingdom every weekend, from Easter through to November. Fairs became a eagerly anticipated feature of the holiday calendar in both towns and villages.
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.