Head of a Spaniel by John Emms – £6200 at Parker Fine Art Auctions.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

First up at Parker Fine Art Auctions (25% buyer’s premium) in Farnham on February 10 was a small but finely conceived head of a spaniel. Possibly executed as a preparatory work for a larger portrait, the 6in (15cm) square oil on canvas was smaller than comparable sketches that have emerged before but was nevertheless a characterful study with rapid and fluent brushwork that clearly appealed to buyers.

Head of a Spaniel was estimated at an attractive £400-600 and, after bringing strong interest, sold at £6200. The only small-scale work by Emms to have recorded more at auction was Study of a Hound that made £12,000 at an online Christie’s sale in 2020 (source: Artprice).

When it comes to Emms, who specialised in painting dogs and sporting scenes from 1881 onwards after moving to Lyndhurst in the New Forest, fox hounds are the breed that command the most money. This is then followed by terriers, with spaniels and setters tending to come the next branch down (he also painted other breeds such as collies, Jack Russells and St Bernards as well as different animals).


Setter with Game by Emms – £6200 at David Lay.

Meanwhile, David Lay (18% buyer’s premium) offered an Emms painting of a setter on the second day of its sale in Penzance on February 10-11.

The 17 x 22in (44 x 56cm) signed oil on canvas came from a private vendor and was described in the catalogue as being in “very honest, original condition”. It was also billed as “a very fine work and will look fantastic when cleaned”.

Re-entered from a previous sale where it had failed to sell, it was estimated here at £2500-4500.

Bringing decent competition, it sold also at £6200 to an online buyer.