Munnings painted gypsies and hop-pickers at Binstead in Hampshire from 1913 into the 1920s. Munnings was introduced to the subject through his friend Olive Branson, another artist who every September would travel to Binstead in a gilded caravan to paint the hop-picking activities. From the beginning, Munnings was captivated by the colour and nomadic life of the gypsies and befriended many of the families that joined the and picturesque adults, black-eyed children, dogs of all varieties, colourful ponies and horses all mingled together 'standing along the hedges on each side were caravans of all shape, sizes and descriptions: round, romany, beehive tents; old army bell-tents. There were at least two to three hundred souls' (see A.J. Munnings, An Artist's Life, Bungay, 1951, p. 288).
"Here was a fresh scene, …for these pickers mostly trvellled up from Bristol and West Dorsetshire, Salisbury Plain and Herfordshire. The greater part of them were either true or very near Romany - with names like Gray, Stevens, Lee Gregory and Loveday." (see An Artist's Life, p. 289).
Munnings obviously liked the composition of the vignette of the girl leaning on the tent as well as the pose of the white horse resting because he repeats both in numerous other paintings.
Unlike in his earlier works (see Haymakers on the Stour, lot 154), Munnings generally did not portray the gypsies labouring. They are depicted at their camps as in the present work or working with their horses, so vital to their way of life for transport, or for horse trading. Their keen comaraderie and bond with the horse are legendary.
We are grateful to Lorian Peralta Ramos for her help in preparing this catalogue entry. The picture will be included in her forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné of the work of Sir Alfred Munnings.