2020 Fine Sporting Art, American Paintings, and Sculpture
152| Sir Alfred J. Munnings (British, 1878-1959)
Watercolor & tempera, 15" x 12"
$15000. - $20000.
Provenance: The Taylor Gallery
Before his prolific career was established Munnings completed an apprenticeship while also seeking exposure for his work. He apprenticed with the Page brothers and obtained his formal education at the Norwich Art School, while also producing commercial poster designs for local businesses. Eager to take the next step in his artistic career, Munnings set about creating conventional works appealing to a vast array of buyers, until just before his 20th birthday when he suffered what could have been a grave setback for a less extraordinary artist. After losing sight in his right eye during an accident, Munnings was forced to pause in promoting his work and allocate a heavy portion of funds to his recovery. The downtrodden Munnings, keen to relaunch his career, once again began to construct large-scale covers and advertisements for Norwich?s local businesses, including Caley?s Chocolates. The ready work allowed the artist to restore his bank account and return to the task that lay ahead: establishing his reputation. Many of the designs, in vogue at the time, depicted the archetype for a young lady of society ? subtle beauty, regency dress, and a garden setting. Munnings employed as his model his cousin and close friend, who was staying with him at the time. In his memoir, An Artist?s Life, he fondly recalls her, ?The cousin had beautiful arms, and black hair, and was a flirt, and her name was May.? (A. J. Munnings, An Artist?s Life, Museum Press, page 103) The present piece, June Bouquet, completed between 1899 and 1901, likely depicts May. Other works of the same nature were probably completed in preparation for the finished poster designs. This work in particular, a fine example of Munnings? insightful manner of producing portraits, can be interpreted with the intention of being given as a gift to the sitter.
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