John Emms was born in Blofield, Norfolk, the son of the artist Henry William Emms. At one point in his early career, he worked as Frederic, Lord Leighton's studio assistant. A good horseman and convivial guest, he soon found his vocation painting horse, hound and dog portraits, and travelled extensively throughout the British Isles. The present watercolour is a rare example of Emms's work in this medium.
Stylistically it is very similar to his oil paintings and he has successfully managed to transfer the fluidity of his brushstrokes and the sensitively of mood into the medium of watercolour. A similar watercolour entitled Hounds at rest was sold Sotheby's, London, 15 June 1982, lot 243 and another watercolour entitled Waiting to go out signed and dated 1875 was sold Sotheby's, London, 9 July 1974, lot 109.