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Original works of art

John Emms
(English, 1843 -1912 )

John Emms is today one of the best known of the animal painters of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries . Emms was a master at depicting Hounds and Terriers, and his paintings are very much in demand. Paradoxically, very little is known about his life, artistic training or background.

Born April 21, 1843, near Blowfield, England, Emms was the son of the artist, Henry William Emms and grew up in Norfolk. Moving to London to pursue his interest in art, he was eventually apprenticed to the well known academician, Lord Frederick Leighton. Not staying with Leighton for very long, Emms developed his distinctive style very much on his own.

While his early work is often more finished, John Emms is known for his quick, confident and vigorous brush stroke that is more apparent in the later work. In a few short strokes of heavily applied paint, Emms is able to capture the anatomy and characteristic stance and character of his subjects. The best of his work exhibits a painterly, almost calligraphic style that gives his portraits a fresh, immediate quality.

Emms was a very prolific artist who produced a body of work surprisingly consistent in style and quality. He exhibited extensively at the Royal Academy, Suffolk Street, from 1866 onwards, showing some 290 paintings. In 1875 three of his paintings were shown in the exhibition, Beauties of the New Forest and won numerous awards and prizes in both London and Paris.

In 1880 he married Fanny Primer and settled in London where he maintained a studio. In 1888 they moved to the country to build a large house and studio named "The First" in Lyndhurst. It was there he lived and worked until his death in November, 1912.

Although many know Emms as a painter of horses and hounds, he in fact painted a wide variety of subjects including many different animals and breeds of dog. Today, however, Emms is best known for his paintings of Foxhounds in a Kennel as well as his paintings of Terriers. Paintings with titles such as After The Hunt, or The Long Afternoon, typically included at least three Foxhounds and one Hunt Terrier.

The earlier works tend to be more carefully painted, while later paintings are looser and more painterly. He often used a lot of rich browns and ochres, but closer inspection reveals that he often used a particular shade of blue-green which gave a liveliness to his shadows, and when used in small amounts provide a sparkle when combined with whites and lighter tones.


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