We would like to thank Annie Cairns of the British Sporting Art Trust for her contribution to this catalogue note.
Private Collection, United States Sale: Sotheby's, New York, May 18, 2016, lot 87, illustrated Acquired at the above sale
In 1864, when he was living in London, John Emms came to Lyndhurst in the New Forest to work with Frederic, Lord Leighton on a fresco for St Michael and All Angels. In 1880 he married Fanny Primmer, the daughter of a Lyndhurst official, and in 1886 the couple settled in town, building an imposing house, The Firs, where Emms remained for the rest of his life.
Emms painted the New Forest Buckhounds and Foxhounds on numerous occasions. The size of the hounds in the present painting, and the set of steel and leather couples lying by the hunting whip on the red coat, suggest that they are Buckhounds. The couples were used for the "tufters", the small advance guard of hounds used to separate a fallow buck and set it running, before the main pack was brought out and laid on its scent.
The fluid, energetic style of the painting, which so brilliantly conveys the play of light on the hounds’ coats and the rough textures of this hunt terrier, indicates a date in the 1890s. In his mature work, Emms is more concerned with atmosphere, using a subdued palette which evokes the crepuscular light of the kennel and the companionable relaxation of the hounds.
The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.: This work has been lined with a non-wax adhesive. The canvas is well stretched, and the paint layer is stable. Under ultraviolet light, one can see remnants of an old varnish. There are small dots of retouching addressing some of the thinness in the chest of the dog in the upper right, in a few areas of thinness in the lower right, and in the darkest colors in the group of three dogs in the upper left. These retouches are minor and accurately applied. There is one structural restoration above the haunches of the small terrier in the darkest colors of the dog behind, which runs about 1 ½ inches. The work should be hung as is. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.