Alfred James Munnings England
10-8-1878 Mendham, ENG - 7-17-1959 Dedham, ENGBack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
At fourteen Alfred James Munnings was apprenticed to a Norwich printer, designing and drawing advertising posters for the next six years, attending the Norwich School of Art in his spare time. When his apprenticeship ended, he became a full-time painter. The loss of sight in his right eye in an accident in 1898 did not deflect his determination to paint, and in 1899 two of his pictures were shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. He was associated with the Newlyn School of painters, and while there met Florence Carter-Wood (1888–1914), a young horsewoman and painter. They married on 19 January 1912 but she tried to kill herself on their honeymoon and did so in 1914.
Although he volunteered to join the Army, Alfred James Munnings was assessed as unfit to fight. In 1917, his participation in the war was limited to a civilian job, processing tens of thousands of Canadian horses en route to France and often to death. Later, he was assigned to one of the horse remount depots on the Western Front. Munnings' talent was employed in his position as war artist to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade. Munnings worked on this canvas a few thousand yards from the German front lines.
Alfred Munnings was elected president of the Royal Academy of Art in 1944. He was awarded a knighthood in 1944. His presidency is best known for the valedictory speech he gave in 1949, in which he attacked modernism. The broadcast was heard by millions of listeners to BBC radio. An evidently inebriated Munnings claimed that the work of Cézanne, Matisse and Picasso had corrupted art.
His immensely popular sporting art works have enjoyed popularity in the United States as well as the United Kingdom and elsewhere. As of 2007, the highest price paid for a Alfred James Munnings painting was $7,848,000 for The Red Prince Mare, far above his previous auction record of $4,292,500 set at Christie's in December 1999.
Art Movement: Newlyn School