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




Oil on canvas, 14" x 18"

$20,000 - $30,000

Provenance: Frost and Reed, London


Upon completing his apprenticeship, Munnings returned home to Mendham in 1898 where he would find new inspiration in a familiar setting. The son of a miller, Munnings grew up at Mendham Mill on the banks of the River Waveney in Norfolk. He was always attracted to its sights and sounds and recalled in his memoirs that the river was his playground. "Oh, for a river flowing through one's premises as it did there at home! A boat on it, a girl resting on the oars, the reflections on the farther bank? The sound of the mill! All makes me long to be back once more in those days." Munnings turned to painting the idyllic scenery of his youth and was in constant search of his next scene and his next models. While living in Mendham Munnings painted a picture titled Stranded, which would later be his first work accepted to hang at the Royal Academy, featuring two children in a punt, or rowboat, the children were Munnings cousins and the punt would reappear in many of the artist's early works, including the present work Punting at Sunset. No longer solely focused on commercial works, Munnings began to seek out models from the village to pose in his compositions. He recalls the different models in detail in a chapter titled Village Models in An Artist's Life: "Artists in the country have drawn their models from the young, aged or loafing fraternity not engaged in regular work. It was the same with me." While Munnings loved the river and painting his various models, he also had a great love for beautiful women. These loves were often at odds as he details in a chapter titled The Girl or The Paint-box but occasionally all three of these interests aligned as they did in the present work Punting at Sunset. Munnings recalls "Now my mind is away by that river, it would be idle not to continue, and foolish not to stay my course. Alas, those days! Whether I went upon the river with a girl or a paint-box I never was happier! And now I think of afternoons in a boat, taken from near the wooden bridge by the mill, with a paintable girl for company."

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