Emmanuel Levy was born in Manchester 1900 and studied both in Paris and at the Manchester School of Art. Son of a Russian-Jewish émigrés, his father was a beadle at the city’s Great Synagogue. After his study, he later earning a living as a portrait painter, art teacher, reviewer and playwright.
It was at the MSA that he met L. S. Lowry, learning under Adolphe Valette wh...om he was to later succeed as art master at Manchester University department of architecture. Levy trained alongside L.S. Lowry and exhibited regularly in the 1920s and 1930s – yet Levy was often overshadowed by his peers success. He was a highly under rated artist in the Northern School.
He Lectured at Manchester and Stockport College of Art during the 1950’s and 1960’s. He also worked for a while as an art critic at the Manchester Evening News. He was versatile and proficient in most materials, though is particularly noted for his work in oils and watercolours.
Levy was generous in his application of paint, applying it thickly to the canvas, giving his sitters a pleasing solidity, and tending towards the vibrancy of vermilion and viridian. Occasionally there are flashes of humour in his work. The artist is portrayed as a formal man who eschewed the work overall in favour of a single-breasted suit, shirt and tie, a cigarette sprouting from his lower lip as he works on his canvas.
Levy’s practice aimed to express life in the urban north, during the experience of World War Two and the Holocaust. The artists used bold brushstrokes and smudged, slightly muddied colours. His style has an air of Lucian Freud’s, and in some paintings strays into semi-Cubism and at others turning towards the more refined palette of Tamara de Lempicka.
A much under rated artist in his home region – though his first exhibition was at Manchester City Gallery in 1924 – his reputation has nonetheless prospered nationally. There are two of his works hanging at the National Portrait Gallery. And a portrait of Lowry hangs at the Salford art gallery.
Ben Uri Gallery, The London Jewish Museum of Art, recently purchased a major painting “The crucifixion” by Levy to add to its collection.The Manchester Jewish Museum became the first venue to host a major retrospective of his work in over 30 years.