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Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S (1878-1959)
Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S (1878-1959)

The Morning Ride

Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S (1878-1959)
The Morning Ride
oil on canvas
20 x 24 in (51.4 x 61.5 cm.)
Painted circa 1912
Given to Major C. Gilbert Evans by the artist, and by descent to the present owner.
J. Goodman, What a go! The Life of Alfred Munnings, London, 1988, pp. 112-121, pl. 10.
J. Goodman, Telegraph Magazine, The strange case of the artist's wife, 31 August 1991, pp. 44-46.
R. Trethewey, Daily Mail Weekend, Portrait of a lady, 11 March 1995, p. 12.
J. Smith, Summer in February, London, 1995, illustrated on the cover.
London, Barbican Art Gallery, <->Painting in Newlyn 1880-1930<->, 1985, no. 161.

Lot Essay

The present composition shows Florence Carter-Wood, Munnings' first wife, riding in a glade in the Lamorna valley, near Penzance.

Edith Florence Carter-Wood, the daughter of a wealthy Cumberland brewing family, moved to Cornwall in 1910 to study at the painting school set up by Stanhope and Elizabeth Forbes in Newlyn. Blote as she was inexpicably known, met Munnings early in the year and they were engaged by the end of it. They were married in 1912 and lived at the Cliff House, Temperance Hotel, Lamorna, where Gilbert Evans, a young Capatin in the Royal Monmouthshire R.E. Militia was also living. When Munnings was away, he asked Gilbert Evans to look after his wife and it was during these times that their attraction to each other grew. Jean Goodman writes: 'She had also been entertained by Gilbert Evans, who took her for long walks and out to lunch or tea several times. They made a handsome couple: he unfailingly sensitive and gentlemanly, in contrast to her unpredictable husband and probably a more understanding and relaxing companion' (op. cit., pp. 116-117). Evans wrote in his diary on 22 February 1914: 'Had early lunch with Blote in my room, and then for a walk over the cliffs to Penberth where we had tea, then back by the road in the evening. A summer day to be remembered'.

Evans was clearly well liked and was fully embraced into the community of the Lamorna artists, however, being a very honourable man and seeing the impossibility of the situation of his developing attraction for Florence, decided that he must leave and as a result, he joined a Royal Engineers survey party destined for Nigeria. He saw Florence for the last time on Saturday 25 April, 1914 when he wrote in his diary, 'She saw me off at Paddington. We parted at 3.15. I went to the train alone and very sad'. This is the last time that he saw her, for within three months she had taken her life.

Munnings was clearly affected by this tragedy although interestingly, he makes no mention of Florence in his three volume autobiography which he wrote towards the end of his life, however, this could have been due to the wishes of Violet, Lady Munnings, the artist's second wife.

Munnings liked and admired Evans, and in spite of all that had happened, he left the painting in Cornwall with Harold and Laura Knight, to be given to Evans on his return from Nigeria after the war.


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