MacConnal Mason

John Emms ( 1843 - 1912 )


Signed, lower right: JNo Emms 
Oil on canvas
12 x 9 in – 30.5 x 22.9 cm 

Provenance: Private collection, UK Artist Biography: John Emms was born in Blofield, Norfolk 21st April 1843, the son of the artist Henry William Emms. In a nation of animal lovers he was to become one of the most highly regarded painters of dogs of the nineteenth century. Emms moved to London, working as an assistant to Frederick Lord Leighton. He subsequently accompanied Leighton to Lyndhurst in Hampshire where the latter had been commissioned to paint a fresco of the “Ten Virgins”. Emms was to return to Lyndhurst in 1881, following his marriage to Fanny Primmer, where he built a house and studio and lived for the rest of his life. By 1866 Emms was able to establish himself in a studio in Kensington, then a residential suburb popular with artists, and exhibited the same year at the Royal Academy. His early works included rustic genre, however, Emms rapidly developed a reputation as a painter of dogs. Hunting was an enormously popular sport in Victorian England and commissions to paint favoured foxhounds were numerous, Emms being a frequent recipient. In addition to painting hounds and spaniels Emms was also commissioned to paint pet dogs, and also horses, perhaps the favourite hunter of a country gentleman. His success lay not only in the widespread popularity of his subject matter but also in the manner of its execution, Emms had an extraordinary ability to convey the almost anthropomorphic qualities of dogs with his acute observation and flowing expressive brushwork. Emms exhibited widely, at the British Institution, Suffolk Street, the New Watercolour Society, the Grosvenor Galleries and at the Royal Academy from 1866 to 1906. In his later years with the growth of shooting popularised by Edward VII Emms exhibited “Ready for the Guns” in 1905 while continuing to portray his favoured hunting subjects, showing “The Pride of the Belvoir” at the Royal Academy the following year. With his wealth of commissions and exhibited works Emms had established his reputation as one of the most successful animal painters of the 19th century. His work can be found in: Edinburgh, National Gallery. * * * * * * * * * * Bibliography: Christopher Wood “Dictionary of Victorian Painters” Algernon Graves, F.S.A. “The Royal Academy of Arts”

Emms John