In this ongoing series for Fine Art Today, we take a longer look at the history and features of a soon-to-be-available artwork of note. This week: John Emms, “Hounds and a Terrier in a Kennel.”
Dogs won’t be just man’s best friend, but the art collector’s as well on February 17 at Bonham’s in New York City. With estimates starting at $150,000, John Emms’ (1841-1912) “Hounds and a Terrier in a Kennel” will be one of the evening’s highlight lots.
Born in Norfolk in 1841, Emms made a successful career painting animals, particularly horses and dogs. An avid hunter, Emms undoubtedly had an close familiarity with his canine partners, and his bond with the animals surfaces in the individualistic and delicate treatment of his subjects. Bonhams writes, “What we know of Emms is almost as interesting as the painting itself. Born on April 21st 1841 at Blofield, Norfolk, he was the son of Henry William Emms, an amateur artist. Emms 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 Institution, Royal Society of British Artists and the New Watercolour Society.”
Emms’ “Hounds and a Terrier in a Kennel” is perhaps one of the artist’s favorite — and most celebrated — subjects. Within a warm, tightly cropped space, four dogs patiently await their master’s orders. A bright glow emanates from the subjects and each has a lovely degree of individuality and character. Three of the dogs engage the viewer with relaxed gazes as the largest dog — sitting toward the upper left of the canvas — seems attentive and eager as it gazes out of the picture frame.
“Hounds and a Terrier in a Kennel” will feature during Bonham’s February 17 “Dogs in Show and Field” auction at 10 AM Eastern. To view the full catalogue, visit Bonhams.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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