European Art: Paintings & Sculpture

European Art: Paintings & Sculpture

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 128. JOHN BERNARD MUNNS | ENIGMA.


Lot Closed

June 18, 03:02 PM GMT


15,000 - 20,000 GBP

Lot Details



1869 - 1942


signed and dated l.l.: Bernard Munns 1923; further signed, dated, titled and inscribed with the artist's address on the verso

oil on canvas

48.3 by 40.7cm., 19 by 16in.

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Christie's, London, 3 June 1994, lot 146;

Bonhams, Knightbridge, 2 March 2017, lot 79

Munns, who lived all his life in Edgbaston, belonged to a dynasty of Birmingham artists, being the son of one painter and the father of another. Taking a break from bread-and- butter portraits of grandees (amongst them the Prince of Wales, Lord Norton, Thomas Beecham, and Sir Thomas Hood) and of Birmingham worthies, Munns painted two Belliniesque subject pictures for his own purposes: Enigma in 1923 and Fantasy, exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1925. In this he was influenced by the example of the slightly older Birmingham artist Joseph Southall, also a resident of Edgbaston, whose wife often sat to him in a variety of Medieval settings and costumes, against Italianate backdrops. The sitter here is likely to have been Munns’ 23-year-old daughter Una, who designed jewellery.