richard green Ken Howard

Sir Alfred Munnings (Mendham 1878 - Dedham 1959)

  • Sir Alfred Munnings - Augereau and Shrimp at the ford
    Sir Alfred Munnings Augereau and Shrimp at the ford Signed and dated lower right: A.J. Munnings /1908
    Watercolour and gouache
    12 x 18 in
    30.5 x 45.7 cm
    Full details
  • Sir Alfred Munnings - September Afternoon
    Sir Alfred Munnings September Afternoon Signed lower left: A J. Munnings
    Oil on canvas
    25 x 30 in
    63.5 x 76.2 cm
    Full details

    BP 45

     

    SIR ALFRED MUNNINGS, PRA, RWS

    Mendham 1878 - 1959 Dedham

     

    September afternoon

     

    Signed lower left: A J. Munnings

    Oil on canvas:25 x 30 in / 63.5 by 76 cm

    Framed size: 33 ½ x 38 ½ in / 85.1 x 97.8 cm

     

    Painted circa 1939

     

    Provenance:

    Purchased in the 1960s from Ian MacNicol Fine Art, Glasgow by a private collector, UK;

    by descent

     

    Exhibited:

    London, Royal Academy, 1946, no.148 (as The White Canoe)

    London, Sotheby’s, An English Idyll - Works from Private and Public Collections and the Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum, 2001, p.161, no.104, illus. in colour

     

     

    A miller’s son, Alfred Munnings grew up at Mendham on the river Waveney and all his life enjoyed the pleasures of boating and the rippling light of willow-fringed waterways. In 1919 he bought Castle House, Dedham, scarcely a mile from the river Stour, which had been John Constable’s childhood playground. Boating scenes were a theme of Munnings’s painting from Stranded of 1898 (Bristol City Art Gallery). 

     

    In 1922 Munnings painted two versions of The white canoe, depicting his wife Violet and a friend on the Stour near Flatford Mill. They were shown respectively at the Royal Academy and at the International Exhibition at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh in 1924. Munnings returned to this motif from 1938 until the early 1950s, using a variety of models. In his autobiography, he remembers ‘Willows, the river, two girls drifting in a canoe – an old theme of past years taken up again. Sunlight streaming through a transparent, pink Japanese sunshade – exquisite – a challenge to the eye. So fine was the September weather that I did many pictures on that spot. Later a canoe was placed here on the lawn where a girl sat holding the sunshade until I knew the subtle lighting by heart. Both girls – nieces of a local doctor – were later acting new parts in fresh settings. They went into war work’[1].

     

    September afternoon is more stylized than Munnings’s 1924 canoe pictures. He seeks to evoke a sense of timeless reverie, a feeling of golden light as summer is poised to turn into autumn, but the countryside still retains its warmth. The oval of the sunshade is echoed in the soft curves of the overarching willow branches and the sleek lines of the canoe’s interior. Munnings is fascinated by the contre-jour effects of the shell-pink parasol against the dark river, and by the young woman’s crisp, pretty silhouette against the parasol. The pink parasol and the girl’s pink dress, reflected in the water, set the tone for the whole composition, their gently glowing hues making the greens and blues of the landscape seem more luxuriant.

     

    As was always the case, Munnings thoroughly explored his composition through a number of related studies, including eight oil sketches in the Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum at Castle House, Dedham. They include individual studies of the two girls and the parasol, reflecting the care with which Munnings experimented with all aspects of his compositions[2].

     

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    SIR ALFRED MUNNINGS, PRA, RWS

    Mendham 1878 - 1959 Dedham

     

     

    Born in Mendham, Suffolk, Alfred Munnings was the son of a miller.  He was apprenticed to a firm of lithographers from 1893 to 1898 and then studied at the Norwich School of Art and in Paris. There he was impressed with plein-air naturalism; this, together with his introduction to the racecourse in 1899, influenced the themes for which he became famous.

     

    While in Mendham, Munnings painted many scenes of country life, particularly horse fairs.  He went to Cornwall in 1908, and for many years was an important addition to the Newlyn School of artists.  When the First World War broke out, Munnings enlisted, despite having the use of only one eye owing to an accident in 1899.  He became an army horse trainer near Reading and later went to France as an official war artist, attached to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade.

     

    The year 1919 was a major turning-point in all aspects of Munnings’s life; he painted his first racehorse, Pothlyn, the winner of the Grand National, and became an Associate of the Royal Academy.  He met Violet McBride, whom he was to marry, and bought Castle House, Dedham, where the Munnings Memorial Trust maintains a permanent exhibition of his pictures. Munnings’s prolific career, spanning over 60 years, brought him honour, with election to the Presidency of the Royal Academy in 1944, a Knighthood in 1945, and a personal award from the Sovereign in 1947, when he was created Knight of the Royal Victorian Order.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    [1] The Finish, London 1952, p.60.

    [2] The Public Catalogue Foundation: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership in Essex, London 2006, ed. Sonia Roe, p.103, no.199 and 200, illus. in colour.

  • Sir Alfred Munnings - Saddling
    Sir Alfred Munnings Saddling Signed lower left: A.J. Munnings
    Oil on panel
    11 1/2 x 16 in
    29.2 x 40.6 cm
    Full details

    BP 15

     

    SIR ALFRED MUNNINGS, PRA, RWS

    Mendham 1878 - 1959 Dedham

     

    Saddling

     

    Signed lower left: A.J. Munnings

    Oil on panel: 11 ½ x 16 in / 29.2 x 40.6 cm

     

    Painted circa 1931

     

    Provenance:

    Private collection, UK

     

     

    Unlike nineteenth century sporting artists, Alfred Munnings rarely painted a horse race in full flight. From the rough-and-ready Cornish St Buryan races (shown at the Royal Academy in 1915) to his Newmarket Start pictures of the 1940s and 50s, Munnings grasped that the atmosphere of racing is made up of myriad facets: the expectant crowds, the parade ring, saddling, going down to the Start.

     

    Saddling is a bravura evocation of the serious minutes before the race, the culmination of weeks of training. The horse stands patiently as jockey and trainer confer for the final time. The sober clothes of the trainers and lads in the ring contrast with the dazzling sunlight playing on the jockey’s silks and the glossy coat of the horse. The silks are the same colour as those of the lead jockey in Going out at Epsom, RA 1931 (Munnings Museum, Dedham) and the present Saddling was probably made around the same time. Munnings began a painting campaign after the Epsom Weeks of 1929 and 1930, producing a trilogy of subjects, The saddling paddock, Epsom, Unsaddling at Epsom and Going out at Epsom. He worked both on the racecourse and at home at Castle House, Dedham, using his grooms Harvey, Bayfield and Slocombe, silks kept in the studio, and his own horses, which were in fine fettle after a season’s hunting on Exmoor. 

     

    .


    SIR ALFRED MUNNINGS, PRA, RWS

    Mendham 1878 - 1959 Dedham

     

    Born in Mendham, Suffolk, Alfred Munnings was the son of a miller.  He was apprenticed to a firm of lithographers from 1893 to 1898 and then studied at the Norwich School of Art and in Paris. There he was impressed with plein-air naturalism; this, together with his introduction to the racecourse in 1899, influenced the themes for which he became famous.

     

    While in Mendham, Munnings painted many scenes of country life, particularly horse fairs.  He went to Cornwall in 1908, and for many years was an important addition to the Newlyn School of artists.  When the First World War broke out, Munnings enlisted, despite having the use of only one eye owing to an accident in 1899.  He became an army horse trainer near Reading and later went to France as an official war artist, attached to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade.

     

    The year 1919 was a major turning-point in all aspects of Munnings's life; he painted his first racehorse, Pothlyn, the winner of the Grand National, and became an Associate of the Royal Academy.  He met Violet McBride, whom he was to marry, and bought Castle House, Dedham, where the Munnings Memorial Trust maintains a permanent exhibition of his pictures. Munnings's prolific career, spanning over 60 years, brought him honour, with election to the Presidency of the Royal Academy in 1944, a Knighthood in 1945, and a personal award from the Sovereign in 1947, when he was created Knight of the Royal Victorian Order.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Sir Alfred Munnings - The Green Caravan - Hampshire, Hop-picking Gipsies
    Sir Alfred Munnings The Green Caravan - Hampshire, Hop-picking Gipsies Signed lower left: A.J. Munnings
    Oil on canvas
    20 x 24 in
    50.8 x 61 cm
    Full details

     

    BP 44

     

    SIR ALFRED MUNNINGS, PRA, RWS

    Mendham 1878 - 1959 Dedham

     

    The green caravan: Hampshire, hop-picking gypsies

     

    Signed lower left: A.J. Munnings

    Oil on canvas: 20 x 24 in / 51 x 61 cm

    Framed size: 27 ½ x 31 ½ in / 69.8 x 80 cm

     

    Painted in 1914

     

    Provenance:

    Acquired from the artist circa 1915 by Avery Wilson, née Buxton (1889-1982);

    by descent

     

    Exhibited:

    Bournemouth, Russell Cotes Art Gallery, Sir Alfred Munnings, 1955

    London, Royal Academy, Sir Alfred Munnings, 1956, no.69

     

    Literature:

    Stanley Booth, Sir Alfred Munnings, 1978, pp.102-3, illus. in colour

    Ysanne Holt, ‘Alfred Munnings and the Painting of Gypsy Life’, in London, Sotheby’s, An English Idyll: a Loan Exhibition of Works by Sir Alfred Munnings, 5th-25th January 2001, pp.31-2, fig. 16; 87

     

     

    Alfred Munnings had been fascinated by gypsy life ever since, as a small boy, he had happened upon a gypsy encampment and been frightened by these romantic but mysterious strangers. Gypsies were exotic figures of his childhood, colourful folk at country fairs where they manned the roundabouts and coconut shies and dealt in horseflesh with superb skill. In 1910 he roamed the Ringland Hills near Norwich with a blue caravan and his gypsy groom and model Shrimp, painting a life of freedom and harmony with nature.

     

    In 1913 Munnings accompanied Olive Branson, who had trained at William Orpen’s and Augustus John’s Chelsea Art School, to paint the gypsy hop pickers who gathered in the late summer at Binstead, near Alton in Hampshire. Olive Branson had a house near Evesham and a magnificently painted and gilded gypsy caravan, in which she played out the fantasy of the closeness between the bohemian artist and the proud, wild gypsy.

     

    The green caravan: Hampshire, hop-picking gypsies is a fruit of this painting campaign just before the First World War. Harmonies of deep blue, green, buff, cream and brown bind the figures into their natural surroundings. The gypsies are relaxed and completely at ease with their way of life: the standing woman in blue and the man lying on the grass have the grace of classical statues. Munnings works rapidly, dashing brushwork emphasizing the sense of community and the atmosphere of the campsite with its drifting smoke. The seated figure in the pale hat also appears in a camp fire scene of 1913, Gypsy camp fire (The Munnings Art Museum, Dedham)[1]. The heavy,

     

     

     

    late-summer foliage of the embowering tree is evoked with bold dabs of olive green and midnight blue, with white highlights conveying the rustling of the leaves.

     

    Munnings wrote of his stay in Hampshire: ‘More glamour and excitement were packed into those six weeks than a painter could well contend with. I still have visions of brown faces, black hair, earrings, black hats and black skirts; of lithe figures of women and children, of men with lurcher dogs and horses of all kinds. I still recall the never-ceasing din around their fires as the sun went down, with blue smoke curling amongst the trees. I think of crowded days of work – too swiftly gone’[2].

     

    This painting was acquired around 1915 by Avery Wilson (1889-1982), seventh of nine children of Lt-Col. Geoffrey Fowell Buxton of Dunston Hall, Norfolk. Dunston was a mile from Munnings’s Swainsthorpe studio and he had a long association with the Buxtons, who were part of the Barclays banking dynasty. Famed for their ‘fabulous good looks and charm’[3], the Buxton siblings were brought up to be sporty and independent, with boys and girls treated equally. Munnings gave art lessons in 1906 to Avery’s younger sisters, Hazel and Rose, and portrayed them both painting[4] and hunting with their father’s Dunston Harriers[5]. In 1911 Avery married Col. The Hon. Guy Wilson (1877-1943), a distinguished soldier and MP. The green caravan has descended in her family.

     

     

    SIR ALFRED MUNNINGS, PRA, RWS

    Mendham 1878 - 1959 Dedham

     

    Born in Mendham, Suffolk, Alfred Munnings was the son of a miller.  He was apprenticed to a firm of lithographers from 1893 to 1898 and studied at the Norwich School of Art and in Paris. There he was impressed with plein-air naturalism; this, together with his introduction to the racecourse in 1899, influenced the themes for which he became famous.

     

    While in Mendham, Munnings painted many scenes of country life, particularly horse fairs.  He went to Cornwall in 1908, and for many years was an important addition to the Newlyn School of artists.  When the First World War broke out, Munnings enlisted, despite having the use of only one eye owing to an accident in 1899.  He became an army horse trainer near Reading and later went to France as an official war artist, attached to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade.

     

    The year 1919 was a major turning-point in all aspects of Munnings’s life; he painted his first racehorse, Pothlyn, the winner of the Grand National, and became an Associate of the Royal Academy.  He met Violet McBride, whom he was to marry, and bought Castle House, Dedham, where the Munnings Memorial Trust maintains a permanent exhibition of his pictures. Munnings’s prolific career, spanning over sixty years, brought him honour, with election to the Presidency of the Royal Academy in 1944, a Knighthood in 1945, and a personal award from the Sovereign in 1947, when he was created Knight of the Royal Victorian Order.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    [1] An English Idyll, op. cit., p.87, no.35, illus. in colour.

    [2] An Artist’s Life, 1950, p.287.

    [3] Sara Wheeler, Too Close to the Sun: the Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton, London 2007, p.29.

     

    [4] The painting lesson: Hazel and Rose Buxton, watercolour dated 21st June 1907, with Richard Green in 1997; private collection, USA.

    [5] Hazel Buxton on Blackie and Rose Buxton on Micky hunting with the Dunston Harriers, 1906; with Richard Green in 2013; private collection, UK.

  • Sir Alfred Munnings - The Leaders
    Sir Alfred Munnings The Leaders Signed and dated 1911
    Watercolour
    15 3/4 x 21 3/4 in
    40 x 55.2 cm
    Full details

     

    BL 153

     

    SIR ALFRED MUNNINGS, PRA, RWS

    Mendham 1878 - 1959 Dedham

     

    The leaders

     

    Signed and dated lower right: A.J. Munnings / 1911

    Watercolour: 15 ¾ x 21 ¾ in / 40 x 55.2 cm

    Frame size: 23 ½ x 30 in / 59.7 x 76.2 cm

     

    Provenance:

    Sotheby’s London, 13th March 1974, lot 59 Richard Green, London; by whom sold in 1974 to a private collector, USA

     

    Exhibited:

    London, Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, 1911, no.303 Brandywine Conservancy and River Museum, Alfred J. Munnings from Regional Collections, 7th June-1st September 2008 (as Leaders pulling the Queen’s carriage) Saratoga Springs, National Museum of Racing, The Mastery of Munnings, 8th July-4th September 2000, p.23, illus. in colour (wrongly dated 1909)

     

     

    Alfred Munnings mastered the difficult medium of watercolour during his lithographic apprenticeship with Page Bros in Norwich and employed it throughout the first half of his career, often working out his themes in parallel oils and watercolours. He was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours in 1899, at just twenty-one, and exhibited there until 1934.

     

    Munnings was fascinated by grey horses and frequently makes them a focus of his paintings, as in the large horse fair oil The coming storm, 1910 (Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney), where the greys’ coats are caught in a shaft of sunlight beneath a thundery sky. The visual grandeur of greys was bound up with Munnings’s childhood memories: ‘A distinct scene from my earliest days, which for some strange reason remains clear and more unclouded than others, is my Aunt Rosa’s wedding, with grey horses and white rosettes. I see them trotting up to Walsham Hall, the old farmhouse where my grandmother lived….They were, no doubt, quite ordinary greys, but let me cling to my dream of beauty’[1].

     

    In The leaders Munnings delights in the lilac and cream shadows on the horses’ flanks, the sensation of movement achieved by blurring the washes around the animals’ legs, and the vivid contrast with the postillion’s red coat. Around 1910-11 Munnings made a number of carriage scenes where the friezelike composition emphasises the speed, grace and vigour of the horses. In 1925 he was commissioned by Queen Mary to paint the Ascot Procession (RA 1926; Royal Collection) and was taken every morning to Windsor Castle where he made studies of the magnificent matched greys that pulled the Royal carriage. The small boy who had thrilled to his aunt’s wedding procession could not have asked for a better future.

    SIR ALFRED MUNNINGS, PRA, RWS

    Mendham 1878 - 1959 Dedham

     

    Born in Mendham, Suffolk, Alfred Munnings was the son of a miller. He was apprenticed to a firm of lithographers from 1893 to 1898 and studied at the Norwich School of Art and in Paris. There he was impressed with plein-air naturalism; this, together with his introduction to the racecourse in 1899, influenced the themes for which he became famous.

     

    While in Mendham, Munnings painted many scenes of country life, particularly horse fairs.  He went to Cornwall in 1908, and for many years was an important addition to the Newlyn School of artists.  When the First World War broke out, Munnings enlisted, despite having the use of only one eye owing to an accident in 1899. He became an army horse trainer near Reading and later went to France as an official war artist, attached to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade.

     

    The year 1919 was a major turning-point in all aspects of Munnings’s life; he painted his first racehorse, Pothlyn, the winner of the Grand National, and became an Associate of the Royal Academy.  He met Violet McBride, whom he was to marry, and bought Castle House, Dedham, where the Munnings Memorial Trust maintains a permanent exhibition of his pictures. Munnings’s prolific career, spanning over sixty years, brought him honour, with election to the Presidency of the Royal Academy in 1944, a Knighthood in 1945, and a personal award from the Sovereign in 1947, when he was created Knight of the Royal Victorian Order.

     

     

     

    [1] Sir Alfred Munnings, An Artist’s Life, London 1950, p.16.  

     

     

Born in Mendham, Suffolk, Alfred Munnings was the son of a miller. He was apprenticed to a firm of lithographers from 1893 to 1898 and studied at the Norwich School of Art and in Paris. There Munnings was impressed with plein-air naturalism; this, together with his introduction to the racecourse in 1899, influenced the themes for which he became famous.


While in Mendham, Munnings painted many scenes of country life, particularly horse fairs. He went to Cornwall in 1908, and for many years was an important addition to the Newlyn School of artists. When the First World War broke out, Munnings enlisted, despite having the use of only one eye owing to an accident in 1899. He became an army horse trainer near Reading and later went to France as an official war artist, attached to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade.


The year 1919 was a major turning-point in all aspects of Munnings's life; he painted his first racehorse, Pothlyn, the winner of the Grand National, and became an Associate of the Royal Academy. Munnings met Violet McBride, whom he was to marry, and bought Castle House, Dedham, where the Munnings Memorial Trust maintains a permanent exhibition of his pictures. Munnings's prolific career, spanning over 60 years, brought him honour, with election to the Presidency of the Royal Academy in 1944, a Knighthood in 1945, and a personal award from the Sovereign in 1947, when Munnings was created Knight of the Royal Victorian Order.


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