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Featured artists from the collection

03 November 2014    12:00

Featured Artist:  John Emms (1843-1910)

John Emms was born in Norfolk, the son of a wealthy plumber who later put his occupation down as 'artist'. There is no record of John having had any formal art training, but it is a matter of record that he worked in London as a studio assistant to the Victorian Neo Classical painter Lord Frederick Leighton. One job he helped on was in a church in Lyndhurst in the New Forest. He loved the area and was determined to return.

He developed his painting career in London, exhibiting at the RA and RBA. In 1868 he returned to Lyndhurst and now his paintings show his love of the New Forest and hunting. In 1880 he married Fanny Primmer, daughter of a forest official. Through his hunting he found many clients and this greatly influenced his subject matter. Now mostly known for his Hound and Terrier paintings, which fetch high prices at auction, he also painted show dog kennels and pet dogs. The KC's most valuable paintings in the collection are of The Duchess of Newcastle's Borzois and Sir Humphrey de Trafford's English Setters. His work is recognised by generous application of paint and bold loose brushwork.

Towards the end of his life he fell on hard times, exchanging paintings for alcohol with the proprietor of the Stag Inn at Lyndhurst. But in earlier years John Emms was both a hunting man and a Bohemian who painted from life and experience. Unlike other famous animal painters who made a lot of money from their art, while he undertook a few etchings, no prints of his work were published during his lifetime and he did not illustrate any books, both traditional ways of wide recognition and fortune. Southampton Art Gallery holds a number of his paintings and lent the KC one for the Newfoundland Exhibition.

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