John Emms was born in Blofield, Norfolk, the son of a plumber, glazier and amateur artist, Henry William Emms. In his early career, he worked as a studio assistant to Frederic, Lord Leighton, helping to paint a fresco at Lyndhurst parish church in Hampshire. Living at first in London, it was to Lyndhurst that Emms retired, drawn by his interest in the New Forest and hunting with foxhounds, buckhounds and beagles. As a keen and active huntsman, Emms found his vocation painting sporting scenes, particularly images of dogs. An accomplished sportsman and convivial guest, the artist sought patronage throughout the British Isles, traveling extensively to find clients and subjects. He depicted the Clumber spaniels belonging to the Duke of Newcastle, as well as many winners of Cruft's. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and the British Institution. In 1902, Emms suffered from a stroke, and although he continued painting until 1909, from then on he struggled to support his family, exchanging paintings for drink with Ernest Harris, proprietor of The Stag Inn at Lyndhurst, rather a desultory end to an otherwise very successful career.
The present work is a very good example of his unique style which combines fluid and confident brushstrokes with a sensitive understanding of his subject matter.