Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S.
- The Falcon Inn, Costessey
- signed A.J. Munnings and dated 1910 (upper left)
- oil on canvas
- 14 1/4 by 18 3/8 in.
- 36.2 by 46.7 cm.
Dr. Charles F. Bunting (by descent from the above and sold, Christie's, London, June 12, 2002, lot 7, illustrated)
Richard Green, London
Acquired from the above
Dated 1910, the present work is presumably set just outside The Falcon Inn, located near the Bush Inn, Costessey where Shrimp and Munnings first met, and which became their nightly resting place during excursions through the Ringland Hills that summer. The artist’s early jaunts would expand to longer travels through the English countryside as a vagabond, in a romanticized imitation of the gypsies who fascinated him and inspired many of his most celebrated works. Given the assortment of horses purchased just before and brought along the excursion, it is difficult to say which Munnings portrays in the present work. Throughout his compositions, Munnings would alter the number of horses and ponies, change the groupings, viewpoints and locations, which enabled him to explore numerous artistic possibilities. As he explained, "the mere sight of these ponies, coming or going gave me fresh pictures. Like a game of chess, there was no end to it" (Munnings, p. 238). In the present work, Munning’s naturalistic technique, coupled with impressionistic vigor, infuse the composition with a sense of movement — the loose brushwork and compositional cropping of the horses suggest their swift movement as they move out for the next painting excursion — filling the picture space as they traverse it for the artist’s and the viewer’s view.