1843 - 1912

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Above, "A Highland Breakfast" by John Emms shows two dogs hoping for a share of the boy's breakfast.
The beautiful saddle-patterned sable working-type collie (sometimes called Border Collie-type)
is tall enough to get quite close to his target, and the little terrier must wait patiently for his.
This is one of my favorite of Emms' paintings.

John Emms was born near Blowfield, England. Like many of the artists of the day, he was born into an artistic family. His father, Henry William Emms was also an artist. Because of his interest, Emms was apprenticed to Frederick Leighton in London. As Leighton's assistant, he helped to execute the fresco "The Ten Virgins" in the Lyndhurst Churst in the New Forest, Hampshire and he eventually moved to Lyndhurst himself. In 1880, Emms married Fanny Primer, and they settled in London, but in 1888 they moved back to Lyndhurst. Although Emms was a prolific artist, little is known about his personal life, and I could not find a photograph of him.

BCWestyDeerhound.jpg Dandy.jpgThe painting on the left shows off Emms' skill at painting different breeds, in this case a Border Collie-type, a West Highland White terrier, and a Deerhound.

The painting on the right is of "Bill", an old working collie-type with a docked tail.

Collie.jpgColliepainting.jpgThese two painting are of Rough Collies, and they are, especially the one on the right, quite beautiful. It is also amazing to note how differently Emms painted them. The one on the left could be a farm dog. Her tail is somewhat ratty-looking and she looks like she spends most of her time outdoors. The one on the right is a pampered dog without a hair out of place.

Below is another Rough Collie, and it illustrates the way Emms' work progressed as Secord explains below.

WaitingForTheMorningRide.jpgThis one, left, is called "Waiting for the Morning Ride", and shows a Border Collie holding the reins of a little saddled donkey.

Emms is best known for his paintings of horses and hounds. He was a hunter and a sportsman himself. According to the Secord Gallery, "While his early work is often more finished, John Emms is known for his quick confident and vigorous brush strokes that is more apparent in the later work. In a few short strokes of heavily applied paint, Emms is able to capture the anatomy and characteristic stance and character of his subjects. The best of his work exhibits a painterly, almost calligraphic style that gives his portraits a fresh, immediate quality."

Although Emms is known for his horses and hounds, he painted many different breeds of dog, including collies. While most of his collies are of the Rough Collie type of show dog, he did paint a few portraits of working-type, one might say, Border Collie-type dogs.

Below, three similar John Emms' scenes. The one on the left is called "Restful Tune" and is my favorite. It shows a shepherd playing a pipe, with two working collies and sheep in the far background. The dog that is lying down is a gorgeous saddle-patterned sable. The one sitting beside him is black-and-tan. In the middle painting there is also a piping shepherd boy with two collie dogs, a black-and-tan and a saddle-patterned sable. I wonder if they were modelled on the same two dogs. Artists often did that. The boy seems the same in all three paintings, at least he is dressed the same and wears the same hat and smock. In the painting on the right, the shepherd boy plays a pennywhistle, and there is a Jack Russel terrier and a big Rough Collie, also a saddle-patterned sable.
JohnEmmsRestfulTune.jpg Piping2.jpg Piping.jpg

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Last modified: April 13, 2015