Sir Alfred James Munnings, PRA, RWS (British, 1878-1959)
Calling them in signed and dated 'A.J.MUNNINGS 1912' (lower right) watercolour, bodycolour and scratching out 36.5 x 50.5cm (14 3/8 x 19 7/8in).
Munnings executed a number of watercolours with this horse and rider in 1912. The date suggests that this was Munnings' first season hunting, after moving from Norfolk to Cornwall. The artist was an avid hunting man and was often inspired by events that he actually witnessed while out and this hill must have been a favourite hunting spot, as it features in several watercolours during this period.
The rider featured in the present lot is Ned, whom Munnings describes as 'a primitive Cornish youth...a simple soul, who grew into a useful combination of groom-model, and posed for many a picture...[He] had the right-coloured face and figure for a scarlet coat and black cap. Often did the patient fellow sit as a model for me, and he liked it. I painted water-colours, using him and the horses placed where I wanted them in a pine wood, on a moor, by a wall. Such backgrounds made compositions and gave me the will to work.' (A. J. Munnings, An Artist's Life, pp. 272-3).
Ned was an accomplished rider, and Munnings has depicted him in the saddle, as horse and rider descend the hill. Ned's feet are thrust forward and he sits back to ease his weight from the horse's front legs so that the horse can negotiate the incline. Munnings has dispensed with vivid colours in this scene, choosing to accentuate the figures. They are solid in form and loom above the horizon, which contrasts with the tall wispy grasses. A few of the foreground stalks interfere with a clear view of the horse as if the viewer is seated in the grass.
We are grateful to Lorian Peralta-Ramos for her assistance in cataloguing this lot. The painting will appear in her forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Sir Alfred Munnings