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Buyers fail to pursue New Forest Buckhounds painting

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John Emms' The New Forest Buckhounds was one of 50 works by famous painters that went on sale
John Emms' The New Forest Buckhounds was one of 50 works by famous painters that went on sale

A MASTERWORK by a famous Lyndhurst painter failed to sell at auction after the bidding did not meet the lower end of its estimate.

The New Forest Buckhounds by John Emms was expected to fetch between £80,000 and £120,000 but despite attracting a number of bids, the highest was £75,000.

A spokesman for Sotheby’s told the A&T it was now up to the owner – whose identity has not been revealed – what happens next.

That person has owned the painting for 12 years, having bought it at a Sotheby’s auction in New York in April 1997.

“On some occasions, works are sold privately after the sale,” the spokesman said. “Otherwise, they are returned to the owner.”

It was one of 50 Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist works which went up for auction, among paintings by eminent artists such as Sir John Everett Millais and Edward Seago.

Born in Blofield, Norfolk, Emms was the son of artist Henry William Emms and became an avid hunter – which helped inspire the equine and canine paintings he became famous for, particularly of New Forest foxhounds.

He exhibited several times at the Royal Academy and his talent, equestrian accomplishments and prolific output meant Emms acquired a large clientele who commissioned him to paint horses, hounds and dog portraits, and he travelled extensively around the country.

He met his future wife Fanny Primmer when visiting Lyndhurst while apprenticed to Frederick, Lord Leighton in the 1860s – the two collaborated to produce the giant fresco The Wise and Foolish Virgins at St Michael and All Angels Church in Lyndhurst.

Emms and his wife moved to the Forest and built a large house and studio known as The Firs, in Queens Road, Lyndhurst, in the 1880s, where they lived for the rest of their lives.

In his later years, with his popularity among the public fading and his love of whisky increasing, stories of his drinking prowess were legendary.

Emms was often short of money and it is thought he was forced to part with around 100 of his paintings in his later life to settle various bar bills.

Two of those – The Kennel Club and Old Faithful – he gave to Ernest Harris, the then-owner of The Stag Hotel in Lyndhurst. They were auctioned at Sotheby’s by Mr Harris’ granddaughter Kathleen in 1999 and fetched £108,000.

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