SIR ALFRED J. MUNNINGS, RA, PRA, RWS, RI, RP
1878 - 1959
Title: “Hounds and Huntsman, North Cornish Hunt”
Date: circa 1914
Size : Height 37 ½ inches Width 43 inches (framed)
Acknowledged as the finest equestrian artist of the early 20th century, Alfred Munnings was born in Mendham, Suffolk, England, in 1878. He received his formal art training at the Norwich School of Art and at Academie Julian, Paris. On completion of his studies he exhibited at the Royal Academy to which he would be elected President of that renowned Society in 1944 until 1949. He was awarded a knighthood in 1944 and a personal award from the Sovereign in 1947, when he was created Knight of the Royal Victorian Order.
He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1898, exhibiting 178 paintings. Also at the Fine Art Society, Royal Society of British Artists, Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolors, Royal Institute of Oil Painters, Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Royal Society of Painters in Watercolors, Manchester City Art Gallery and Grosvenor Gallery, etc., etc. In 1920 his Royal Academy exhibit “Epsom Downs” was purchased for the nation by the Chantrey Bequest and, also, “Their Majesties Return from Ascot” in 1925.
It was in 1908 that Alfred Munnings visited Cornwall and for many years was an important member of the Newlyn School community. It was here that he painted his hunting scenes which brought him great acclaim and continue to be his most sought after work. His love of the Cornish landscape combined with being an avid and accomplished horseman were to further enhance his already stellar reputation.
This superb example of his work is one of a series of hunting scenes where he explores the image of a single huntsman working his hounds. The excitement of the hunt is accentuated by the fleeting movement of the hounds at the feet of the horse, while the vivid scarlet coat of another huntsman can be seen coming over the crest of the hill. Possibly this is Munning’s own horse which he bought in Dublin for 35 guineas – good natured, she served as hack, hunter and model.
Examples of his work may be seen at the artist’s former home which is now a museum dedicated to his work, The Munnings Collection at Castle House, Dedham, Colchester. Additional musuems include the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond; the Norfolk Museum; Yale Center of British Art; Falmouth Art Gallery; and Brandywine River Museum. Paintings are regularly loaned to other museums, including the Penlee House Gallery in Penzance, as well as exhibitions in the United States, including the National Sporting Library and Museum in Virginia.
This important painting is presented in excellent condition, and the vigor of Munning’s rich impasto brushwork is evident in the bright light silhouetting the huntsman’s head. This work is signed by the artist and presented in its original period frame, and verso is a Frost and Reed, London, Exhibition Label.