There were long August days on the river,
The river on lazy and blue.
The reeds in the stream were a quiver-
And round us the dragon flies flew.
A.J. Munnings, The Old Water-colour Society Club, 9th Annual Volume, 1931-1932.
Munnings recalled in his memoirs his visit to the Norfolk Broads in 1909. 'This was a world apart - a country of vast skies and distances. Breezes tossed and rustled grey-green reed-boats bordering river banks, driving the blue surface of the waves. Trading-wherries, low in the water with tall black sails, slid by. White-sailed yachts and dingies passed, with waves lapping against the prow, heeling over to the stronger gusts of wind. There were indeed pictures for an artist. A wide sky with distant horizons with only willows to break it, unless it were on the broad like Wroxham, where belts of far-off woodlands stretched along the skyline or at Barton, with its church tower standing among the trees on the low uplands. They were days of sun and wind under skies of moving cloud, with the same soothing sounds of lapping water, rustling reeds. Who could hold to a sense of duty and paint under such blissful conditions' (A.J. Munnings, An Artist's Life, London, 1950, pp. 99-101).
Munnings painted a number of scenes of wherries docked at a river's edge such as The Wherry with figures on the river at Homersfield (Christie's, London, 15 March 1985, lot 244) or the watercolour The Skipper of the Wherry 'Triumph', dated 1899 (Sotheby's, London, 7 June 1978, lot 59). He gave up painting in watercolours in the 1920s although, ten years later, he wrote In Praise of Watercolour: 'How I love washing on the colour of the water as it is reflected in the sky. How rich and dark blue and purply it seemed to the eye nearer the bank. The lily leaves were much higher in tone than the water. Meadowsweet, creamy and scented in a group too beautiful ever to be painted, stands there, and flake white should be avoided. But the glamour is still lasting and all must come right. And what peace!' (The Old Water-colour Society Club, 9th Annual Volume, 1931-1932, p. 52).
We are grateful to Lorian Peralto Ramos for her assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.