AN OIL painting of New Forest buckhounds by Hampshire artist John Emms has sold for 162,500 dollars (£112,519) at an auction in America.

The 24 inches by 30 inches picture, entitled New Forest Buckhounds And A Terrier In Their Lodges After The Hunt, was sold at Sotheby’s in New York. It has been expected to fetch between 150,000 and 250,000 dollars.

Although the picture is undated, Sotheby’s suggest that it may have been painted by Lyndhurst-based Emms in the 1890s.

According to auctioneers Sotheby’s: “Emms painted the New Forest buckhounds and foxhounds on numerous occasions. The size of the dogs in this painting and the set of steel and leather couples lying by the hunting whip on the red coat suggest that they are buckhounds.

The couples were used for the “tutters”, the small advance guard of hounds used to separate a fallow buck and set it running, before the main pack was brought out and laid on its scent.

Sotheby’s say: “The fluid,energetic style of the painting,which so brilliantly conveys the play of light on the hounds’ coats and the rough textures of the cheeky hunt terrier indicates a date in the 1890s. In his mature work, Emms is more concerned with atmosphere.using a subdued palette which evokes the crepuscular light of the kennel and the companionable relaxation of the dogs.”

John Emms was in his early 20s when he first visited Lyndhurst in 1864 to work with the distinguished artist Lord Leighton on a fresco at St Michael and All Angels church depicting the Wise and Foolish Virgins, with Biblical characters said to be modelled on local people.

Later Emms met and fell in love with Lyndhurst girl Fanny Primmer - who was 16 years younger than Emms - and on November 5, 1880, they married. They had five children: Dorothy, Margery, Gladys, George and Barton, who tragically died in 1889, the year after he was born.

Emms, Fanny and the children lived at The Firs in Queens Road, Lyndhurst. Emms was 69 when he died on November 1, 1912. In his will, he left £1,400, two shillings and threepence.

Since Emms’s death, the value of his work has steadily soared. At Bonhams in New York on February 14, 2006, a new world auction record for an Emms work was set when his 1898 oil painting, New Forest Foxhounds, sold for £588,737.

Between 1858 and 1893, the Master of the New Forest Buckhounds was wealthy Francis Lovell, who lived at Hincheslea, Brockenhurst, and whose wife, Lady Rose Somerset, was the daughter of the seventh Duke of Beaufort.

Mr and Mrs Lovell had four daughters - Edith, Maud, Rosalind and Helen - and employed 13 live-in servants plus a coachman and three gardeners who lived nearby, according to the 1881 Census.