John Emms (British, 1843-1912) Eight Wire Fox Terriers in a kennel 36 x 60in (91.4 x 152.4cm)
Lot 135
John Emms
(British, 1843-1912)
Eight Wire Fox Terriers in a kennel 36 x 60in (91.4 x 152.4cm)
US$ 200,000 - 300,000
£ 160,000 - 240,000

Lot Details
Property from a Private Collection, Dallas, TX
John Emms (British, 1843-1912)
Eight Wire Fox Terriers in a kennel
signed and dated 'Jno Emms/86' (lower left)
oil on canvas
36 x 60in (91.4 x 152.4cm)

Footnotes

  • Born on April 21st 1841 at Blofield, Norfolk, John Emms was the son of the amateur artist, Henry William Emms. John had two brothers and a sister, the eldest of which married the brother of Sir William Richmond P.R.A.

    Like all aspiring artists, Emms travelled to London where he became an assistant to Frederic Lord Leighton P.R.A. It was through Leighton that Emms first visited Lyndhurst when he assisted the former to paint a fresco in Lyndhurst Parish Church. He then made his debut at the Royal Academy in 1866 and proceeded to exhibit elsewhere at the British Institute, Royal Society of British Artists and the New Watercolour Society.

    In 1872 he returned to Lyndhurst where his skill in portraying animals, particularly dogs, and convivial nature led to an abundance of patrons. The Victorian gentleman's love of his horse and dog led to many commissions, including one from the Duke of Newcastle to paint his Clumber spaniels and from other dog owners to depict their Crufts winners. In 1880 Emms married Fanny Primmer daughter of a local Lyndhurst gentleman. Soon after their marriage he was working in London but returned in either 1883 or 1888 to Lyndhurst where he built a large house and studio in Queen's Road.

    Emms cut a flamboyant figure, always dressed in a long black cloak and matching wide brimmed hat, he and his family led a somewhat bohemian life. When times were good, after selling a painting, he would take Fanny, their three daughters and son up to London to stay in the best hotels and live life to the full. But times were not always good. During the early 1900s Emms suffered a stroke and was unable to work; as a result he took to heavy drinking and the family's finances went from bad to worse.

    Amongst dog painting aficionados Emms is sometimes called the 'Guardi' of dog painting with the reference being to the 18th century Venetian painter Francesco Guardi who was known for his bravura brushwork. Emms uses this brushwork to great effect in his paintings of dogs of the hunt, particularly with the Wire Hair Fox Terriers. Their rough and irregular coat allows him to indulge in lavish displays of his talented hand.

    The present work is also one of Emms' grander compositions. Much like his fellow countryman, the landscape painter John Constable, who concentrated his best work on what he referred to as 'six-footers', Emms executed a number of 'five-footers' which are among his most important productions. In addition to this example, over the past few years Bonhams has been fortunate enough to offer several of these 'five-footers,' most recently the Bitchpack of the Meath Foxhonds in 2010 and the New Forest Foxhounds in 2006.
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