signed A. J. Munnings and dated 1913 (lower left)
We would like to thank Lorian Peralta-Ramos for her assistance in cataloguing this work, which will be included in her forthcoming Alfred J. Munnings catalogue raisonné.
Duca di Mignano
Private Collection, Connecticut
MacConnell-Mason, London, 1998
In the early years of Alfred Munnings' career, country fairs and and the wide array of local characters who frequented them were a prominent theme for the artist. It was probably the horse trading associated with seasonal carnivals that first attracted Munnings, but he quickly found challenging motifs in the elaborate pony carts of the treat and trinket vendors and the off-beat costumes of the traveling people who operated many of the joy-rides. The Carousel, carefully dated 1913, probably depicts a fairground in Cornwall where Munnings worked for much that year; but it is the intricate paraphernalia of the fair itself that captured Munnings' eye on this occasion, rather than a specific regional landscape or any picturesque fair-goers.
In The Carousel, Munnings' absolute command of his brushes is delightfully manifest, from the trickling threads of light along the carousel poles, through the fluid gilding of the music wagon, to the bold, fanning slashes of the bustling sky. Although the entire picture surface flickers with assertive, chaotic paint touches, Munnings carefully deployed the easily identifiable form of the merry-go-round and the solid familiarity of the foreground pony to ease the viewer into a complicated scene. Only as one slowly sorts out the overlapping wagon wheels and cart shafts, or distinguishes the live pony from his rhyming wooden counterparts, does one realize with delight that in the jumble of red and white and brown brushstrokes along the lefthand side Munnings quickly caught a crowd of figures moving between the rides. Munnings came of age as an artist in the Impressionist era, and in The Carousel he comes as close as he ever would to the art of a Monet or a Pissarro.
This catalogue entry was writen by Alexandra Murphy.
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