John Emms was one of Britain's finest sporting and animal painters of the late Victorian Edwardian era. He was born in Blofield, Norfolk, the son of a plumber, glazier and amateur artist, Henry Williams Emms. In his early career, he worked as a studio assistant to Frederick, 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 horseman and convivial guest, the artist sought patronage throughout the British Isles, travelling extensively to find clients and subjects. Increasingly painting dogs, he depicted the Clumber spaniels belonging to the Duke of Newcastle, as well as many winners of Crufts.
Emms exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and the British Institution. Although the present work is not dated, judging from the style it is probably from the 1890s which was the period when Emms was at the peak of his artistic skills and career. The fluidity of the brushstrokes adding to the expectant mood of the painting, make it an exceptional example of his style. The animated expressions of the hounds as they wait for the door to be opened combined with their alert poses, beautifully capture the character of the animals.