SIR ALFRED JAMES MUNNINGS 1878-1959
With Stubbs, Munnings is one of the two great masters of sporting art and much has been written about him. Only brief details are given here and the reader is referred to the bibliography and other references at the end of the dictionary for further study. Born at Mendham, Suffolk of a farming family, his father, John Munnings was a miller. He was apprenticed to Norwich Lithographs for six years, 1893 to 1898, and studied at Norwich Art School in the evenings, later studying at Julian;;s in Paris. He first exhibited at the RA in 1898. In 1899 he lost the sight of one eye. During this period he hunted regularly with the Norwich Stag Hound and the Dunstan Harriers. He spent some time painting in Cornwall with the Newlyn School. He moved to Dedham, Essex in 1918. Her married twice and frequently used his first with as a model.
The Canadian Government commissioned Munnings as an official War Artist while he was attached to the Canadian Cavalry Regiment in France 1917-18. Elected RI 1905, ARA 1919, ARWS, 1921, RA 1925, RP 1925, RWS 1029, and PRA 1944-1949, knighted 1944, KVOC 1947. One of his speeches at the RA caused great upheaval when he spoke out very strongly against modern art which he disliked intensely.
Munnings worked mainly in oils but also in watercolours and he would make pencil sketches on any scrap of paper available. He also wrote humorous verse. He painted very fine pictures of the gypsies with their horsed but his racing portraiture sometimes became a little labored and set. Many prints were published after his work especially portraits of racehorses, sighed copies of which now fetch quite high prices. Unfortunately a large number of faked watercolour sketches have flooded on the market in the last few years.
The Dictionary of British Equestrian Artists: Sally Mitchell, 1985