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




Oil on canvas, 12" x 23"

$7,000 - $10,000


Munnings began his career as a commercial artist in 1892, at the age of 14. He began a six-year apprenticeship with the lithographic printers Page Bros. & Co. where Munnings produced numerous illustrations to be used in all manner of advertisements, from toothpaste and beer to bicycles and billboards. After his apprenticeship ended, Munnings continued to produce commercial artwork to supplement his income while he established himself as an artist. In Munnings autobiography, An Artist's Life, he says: "I look back, and know that it was all hard work, which had to be done so that I could live and paint...Gradually, through the Norwich art circle and Boswells, a firm of art dealers in that city, my pictures became known and were sold at moderate prices. I painted pictures of all kinds in that room, and Boswell bought them for a few guineas. These were pictures of knaves and thieves, of ghosts and folk with lanterns in the snow. A part of my inconsistent mind was soaked in the costume and foppery of that period. I loved painting three-cornered hats and wigs and women with powdered hair." When Munnings began to produce "fine art" to be sold in galleries he also continued working as a freelance illustrator, occasionally, the subjects from his paintings and the characters from his advertisements would collide. The Vicar is a perfect example of Munnings use of characters in period "foppery" as well as an example of his use and reuse of characters that he invented. The same character seen in black robes in The Vicar can be found in advertisements produced for Caley's Crackers and Bullard's Beer?with slight adjustments. Munnings was constantly searching for new subject matter and models to use in his paintings; when speaking of his years painting for Boswell he quipped "I continued dipping into my imagination, always hoping and believing there would be one more idea."

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