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JOHN EMMS, 1843-1912

Paintings of the Sporting Life


February 08, 2014  -  March 15, 2014


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We are honored to present “John Emms, Paintings of the Sporting Life.” With over 50 oil paintings, it is by far the largest and most comprehensive exhibition and sale of this English artist’s work.

Born the son of an artist near Blofield, in Norfolk, the young Emms was apprenticed to Lord Frederick Leighton, the great academic painter. It was Leighton who introduced him to Lyndhurst and the New Forest area, enlisting Emms to help him with a large church fresco. Emms was to fall in love with the area, a center for foxhunting and country sports, and he returned there with his wife in 1888. Emms quickly developed his own style, initially painting flowers and birds’ nests, one of which is included in this exhibition. An accomplished horseman who was active in the sporting field, Emms soon came to excel at the depiction of Foxhounds, both in action and at rest.

In a time when Victorian painting was detailed and highly finished, Emms’ paintings were characterized by a quick and bold painterly style. Emms had the uncanny ability to create paintings which captured the true nature of his animal subjects, even now conjuring up the romance and beauty of the English sporting life. He became recognized for his ability to capture the essence of a subject with seemingly effortless applications of paint, attracting the patronage of the foxhunting fraternity as well as prominent members of the dog showing public. Emms was well known during his lifetime and exhibited at several popular venues, including London’s prestigious Royal Academy, where he showed twenty-five oils.

In addition to paintings of Foxhounds, this exhibition includes several paintings of Clumber Spaniels, a breed which was developed at Clumber Park by the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle. Also included are paintings of horses and Jack Russell Terriers as well as portraits of show dogs, such as the Princess de Montglyon’s champion Collies, G. A. Latham’s Dandie Dinmont Terriers and Col. C. S. Dean’s Champion Benham Busybody, perhaps the best known of all Manchester Terriers.

It is hoped that this exhibition, with paintings dating from 1865 to 1909, will generate more interest in this important animal artist’s work. The paintings in this exhibition are all available for purchase and all subject to prior sale.

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