62| Sir Alfred J. Munnings (British, 1878-1959)



Oil on canvas, 35" x 50"

$3,000,000 - $5,000,000


Provenance: Sotheby's, December 3rd, 1958.
Bond Street Gallery
Frost and Reed

Exhibited: Tales From the Turf: The Kentucky Horse 1825-1950. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY. November 15, 2019 - March 1, 2020. Illustrated in the catalogue opposite page 1. #15 in the Exhibition Checklist.

Munnings wrote, "I love the interest created as the horses are led round after saddling up at Epsom. I love the sight from the members' stand, from the roar 'They're off,' to the terrific finish."

Epsom was a special place for Munnings to observe the racing and gain ideas for his paintings. The methods used along with Munnings' attention to detail, and the lengths he would go in order to perfect his subject matter, are demonstrated in his paintings of Epsom in 1931. Three paintings, 'The Saddling Paddock,' 'Going Out' and 'Unsaddling' were completed after months of work following the Epsom weeks in 1929 and 1930. To prepare for the works, Munnings took his three grooms for a day each at the races. In doing so they could see and understand what he was going to paint. As soon as Epsom week was over Munnings started work by taking his own horses to the paddock at Epsom where he made studies of them. Munnings' groom, Slocomb, and the handyman, Rudge, were also used posing as jockeys. Munnings would also make painted studies of the course and stands and the drawings and studies of the various scenes were later worked up in Munnings' studio in the grounds of Castle House. After the enormous amount of work undertaken he had the satisfaction of seeing them hung at the Royal Academy in 1931.

It would appear that many of Munnings' racing scenes were of his own creation. It was for him how the colors of the jockey's silks or the horses coat went against the background or sky. In the Munnings Art Museum collection there are a number of sketchbooks which are annotated as to the coloring of a silk cap against a dark sky. Equally there are numerous studies of horses and jockeys which are simply of a tonal exercise. Munnings used a jockey up in yellow silks in many of his paintings. Study of a Yellow Jockey from 1954 does appear similar in nature as the work offered here. Having searched the many studies there are at the museum the majority which show the horse have no number on them even though they are 'Going to the Start' or at 'The Start' of a race. At present the only numbers found are on five painted studies. On one drawing from Epsom in 1953 there is a horse number 3 which corresponds to the work offered here.

One jockey's colours in this painting can be identified as those of Lord Zetland. The white silks with red dots and cap as seen in the rider next to horse number 3 were colors first used by Lord Zetland in 1875 and have been handed down through the family since then. Munnings knew Lord Zetland and had painted the Zetland Hounds and Pomme De Terre, one of Zetland's thoroughbred horses.

Apart from the 1931 painting of 'Going out at Epsom,' which was shown at the Royal Academy that year, there was also a 'Going Out at Epsom' shown there in 1958. Currently it is not known if it was the same painting.

We wish to thank Dr. Bill Teatheredge, the Munnings Art Museum and Lorian Peralta-Ramos for their help with this lot.

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