John Emms was a British artist who was famous for his paintings of horses, dogs and other sporting scenes. Born in Blofield, Norfolk in 1844, Emms’ father, Henry William Emms was a mediocre artist and John’s first art mentor. Showing exemplary skill in drawing, he went to London to apprentice with Frederic Lord Leighton as his studio assistant. By the age of 22, Emms exhibited in the Royal Academy and a few other exhibitions, building his reputation quickly with his precise details and clear love of horse and dog. In 1872, he returned to Lyndhurst where he gained many commissions for horses, hounds and other canine portraits. He occasionally painted a few portraits of people but mainly focused his paintings on hunting and gaming scenes as he was an avid hunter himself.
Emms traveled extensively before settling down in London with his new bride, Fanny Primmer, in 1880. Soon afterwards, they relocated to Lyndhurst and opened a studio called The Firs where he remained throughout the rest of his life. Rumored to be quite flamboyant in dress and frivolously spending money, Emms built a reputation for himself not only through his art but also with his personality. He continued to paint until he had a stroke in the early 1900s and took up drinking excessively until his death in 1912.