AN oil painting by Hampshire artist John Emms has sold at auction for £31,891.

Ruby and Companions sold for $52,000 at Bonhams in New York.

It was put up for sale by a collector from Houston, Texas, and had been estimated to fetch between £31,000 and £43,000.

Emms, who became so hard-up that some sympathetic tradesmen in Lyndhurst took his paintings in lieu of payment, specialised in pictures of dogs and horses.

Norfolk-born Emms moved to Lyndhurst in the 1880s and built a large house with a studio there named The Firs in Queens Road.

In 1880, when he was 37, he married Lyndhurst girl Fanny Primmer, who, at 21, was 16 years younger than Emms.

Between 1883 and 1894 they had five children – Dorothy, Margery, Barton, Gladys and George Henry.

Emms painted Ruby and Companions, which features three pointer dogs, in 1897. He was 69 when he died in 1912.

Eight years ago, at Bonhams in New York, Emms’ 1898 painting New Forest Foxhounds sold for £483,688, a new world auction record for an Emms work.