Ralph Hedley R.B.A.
Henry Hetherington Emmerson
in his studio

oil on canvas
456 x 353 mm
SIGNED b.l.c. R.H. 95


Bewick Club Sketches Exhibition,
Newcastle, 1895

Loan Exhibition of Works
by Ralph Hedley R.B.A.
Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, 1938 (98)

Ralph Hedley: Tyneside Painter,
Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, 1990-91


Laing Art Gallery,
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Reference TWCMS : B6689
Given by Miss E. J. Bourcier, 1949

Ralph Hedley Archive reference

Henry Hetherington Emmerson
in his studio

A widow wearing black clothes to show that she is in mourning, has brought her son to the artist’s studio to get an assessment of his work. Another version of this picture is called The aspiring artist.

The artist, H.H. Emmerson, was the son of a tailor from Chester-le-Street, County Durham.  He was a father figure among North East artists who attended the new Government School of Art in Newcastle where the sons of artisans were given training in art and design. He was also a member of the Volunteer Life Brigade and played active roles in local football and cricket clubs.

Emmerson died in the year that Hedley painted this picture (1895). On the day of his funeral the flag flew at half mast on Cullercoats Look-Out House.  Just before 2 pm his coffin was brought out and placed on the pavement of John Street, and fishermen sang a hymn around it.  Four fishermen carried his coffin to the hearse, and a throng of his friends from the worlds of art, business, fishing and sport attended his burial.

After he died a local reporter wrote

Mr. Emmerson was perfectly at home in the drawing room of the great, the parlour of the middleman, and the cottage kitchen of the humble... he beamed as heartily in the company of a peasant of fisherman as in that of a lord”.

There is a further version of this subject sold recently as The aspiring artist, 1898

Ralph Hedley, The aspiring artist, 1898 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED  

The aspiring artist
Ralph Hedley R.B.A.

oil on canvas
SIGNED b.r.c. RH.98.

Owner please contact 



(A) The picture on the mantlepiece in both pictures was probably intended to depict a work by H.H. Emmerson, habitually kept there, such as a seascape like Fishing vessels off the coast.

(B) Emmerson worked on a variety on subject matter including local historical themes, and Johnny Armstrong depicts a local legend.

H.H.Emmerson, Fishing vessels off the coast, 1848  


Fishing vessels off the coast
H. H. Emmerson, 1848

oil on canvas
495 x 710 mm

North East Lincolnshire
Museum Service
Reference A.13

H H Emmerson, Johnny  


Johnny Armstrong
H. H. Emmerson, 1886

oil on canvas
2060 x 1687 mm

Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle
Reference TWCMS : G10305


Further paintings by H.H.Emmerson in public collections are at the BBC Your Paintings website:




Ralph Hedley R.B.A., Henry Hetherington Emmerson  in his studio 1895 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED