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Sir Alfred Munnings (Mendham 1878 - Dedham 1959)

  • Sir Alfred Munnings - Wending home
    Sir Alfred Munnings Wending home Full details

    BC 198

     

    SIR ALFRED MUNNINGS, PRA, RWS

    Mendham 1878 - 1959 Dedham

     

    Wending home

     

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

    Canvas: 14 x 20 in / 35.6 x 50.8 cm

    Frame size 19 3/8 x 25 3/4 x 2 1/2 in / 49.2 x 65.4 x 6.4 cm

     

    Provenance:

    Pawsey & Payne, 1 Bury Street, London

    WP Thursby, Esq.

    Private collection, UK

     

    To be included in the catalogue raisonné of the work of Sir Alfred Munnings being prepared by Lorian Peralta-Ramos

     

     

    This painting was made in 1911 after Alfred Munnings had completed his lithographic apprenticeship at Page Bros. in Norwich and returned to the family home, Mill House in Mendham on the river Waveney, which divides Norfolk from Suffolk. He bought the old carpenter’s shop as a studio and struck out on his own as a painter.

     

    Wending home takes its inspiration from the rural life in which Munnings, the son of a miller, had grown up. A farm boy leads a grey mare and her foal home, silhouetted against a primrose sunset. Light filters through the trees and haloes the horses’ backs and legs as the twilight thickens. Munnings, immersed in the rhythms of the Suffolk countryside, was painting East Anglia in the last decades in which the horse dominated rural life. Mechanisation and the slaughter in the Flanders mud were soon to sweep away this gentle world for ever.

     

    Munnings used this grey mare, which must have belonged to his father or a neighbour, as a model from 1902. A watercolour version of Wending home, dated 1906, was in the collection of Phyllis Wyeth[1]. Whitsuntide, a painting of the grey mare and chestnut foal in a field of buttercups, dated 1903, was sold at Sotheby’s on 22nd June 1977, lot 35.

     

    Munnings used the friezelike composition of the present painting, with horses and boy parallel to the picture plane, in several works made before the First World War. They include Charlotte’s pony, dated 1905 (private collection)[2].


    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 1911, 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] 22 ½ x 33 ½ in / 57.2 x 85 cm; see New York, Wildenstein, Alfred J Munnings: Images of Turf and Field, 1983, no.107, illus.

    [2] London, Sotheby’s, An English Idyll: Works from Private and Public Collections and the Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum, 2001, p.60, no.12, illus. in colour.

  • Sir Alfred Munnings - The Leaders
    Sir Alfred Munnings The Leaders 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.  

     

     

  • Sir Alfred Munnings - Winter sunshine: huntsman by a covert
    Sir Alfred Munnings Winter sunshine: huntsman by a covert Full details

     

     

    BE 346

     

    SIR ALFRED MUNNINGS, PRA, RWS

    Mendham 1878 - 1959 Dedham

     

    Winter sunshine: huntsman by a covert

     

    Signed lower left: A.J. Munnings

    Canvas: 20 x 24 in / 50.8 x 61 cm

    Framed Size: 28 ½ x 32 ¼ in / 72.4 x 81.9 cm

     

    Painted circa 1913

     

    Provenance:

    Ian MacNichol Gallery, Glasgow

    James Anderson, Motherwell, Lanarkshire

    Private collection, UK

     

    Exhibited:

    London, Royal Academy, Sir Alfred James Munnings Retrospective Exhibition, 1956, no.67

     

    To be included in the catalogue raisonné of Sir Alfred Munnings being prepared by Lorian Peralta-Ramos

     

     

    Alfred Munnings began hunting with the Norwich Staghounds in the first decade of the twentieth century and hunting scenes provided inspiration throughout his career. He was particularly fond of the theme of a huntsman at the edge of a wood, revelling in the challenge of depicting en plein air complex contrasts of light and shade and the textures of trees, a horse’s coat and the clothes of the huntsman. Munnings’s grooms, such as George Curzon at Swainthorpe, usually provided the patient models for the huntsmen. In the first volume of his autobiography, An Artist’s Life (1950), Munnings described the delight of painting George: ‘Winter mornings and afternoons passed as, dressed in scarlet, he posed on a horse. At last I was seeing the colour of a scarlet coat in the sun, the sheen of a clipped horse, with the lighting on fences, tree-trunks, fields’ (p.195).

     

    This painting, probably made around 1913, is remarkable for the freedom and brilliance with which Munnings suggests the bold blue shadows of the forest floor, the lemon shafts of sunlight, and the myriad colours reflected in the hunter’s coat. A Hunting morning, dated 1913, in the Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum, Castle House, Dedham, shows a similar fascination

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    with huntsmen in a forest lit by wintry sunshine[1]. The museum also has two oil on board Studies of a wood which are very similar in handling to the present painting[2].

     


    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] Board 20 ½ x 26 ¼ in / 52.1 x 66.7 cm. See Oil Paintings in Public Ownership in Essex, ed. Sonia Roe, London 2006, p.100, no.636, illus. in colour.

    [2] Recto and verso of a board 16 ½ x 21 in / 41.9 x 53.3 cm; ed. Sonia Roe, op. cit., p.159, no.344 and 344A, illus. in colour.

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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