Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S. (1878-1959)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S. (1878-1959)

Western Hunt, Zennor Hill

Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S. (1878-1959)
Western Hunt, Zennor Hill
signed and dated 'A.J. Munnings 1912' (lower right)
oil on canvas
19¾ x 23¾ in. (50.2 x 60.3 cm.)
Purchased directly from the artist and by descent until
Anonymous sale; Bonhams, London, 3 December 2002, lot 48.
with The Fine Art Society, London, where purchased by the present owner.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Post lot text
The sale continues with the catalogue of Victorian & British Impressionist Art (lots 20-125).

Brought to you by

Bernard Williams
Bernard Williams

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

Similar to Cezanne's practice of repeatedly painting the same theme, Munnings drew inspiration from this valley scene, altering the position of the various participants. In his memoirs, Munnings describes this landscape and the actual painting of the work:

'Zennor, on the north coast of Cornwall, not far from St. Ives, was at the time a primitive and unspoilt village. Being in granite country, where the soil was shallow, huge masses of stone were built into walls; every wall on each side of every lane consisted of huge stone slabs of split granite. Each farm was divided into walls, some being half as wide as a room. Great stones of strange shapes stood near the houses on either side of the brow of the hill where the road leads to St Ives. In fact this was the most picturesque and charming place. Having seen the village more than once whilst the hounds were drawing a fox on Zennor Hill, and having visited it many times with friends, I was itching to get to the place and use Ned (Ned Osborne was a local man whom Munnings used as a model and groom while in Cornwall) and the horses in fresh scenes...

...the humble Ned...appeared in white corn breeches and top boots, and at about 9:30 a.m. riding Grey Tick, with a mackintosh to hide his scarlet coat, he came towards me up the hill, where I was already planted with easel, canvas and box. This was the start. What could be better? Ned shed his mackintosh. I told him to ride a little way down the hill and then come up slowly again. "Stop, stop, Ned! That's all right; keep where you are" Then with a twenty-by-twenty-four canvas as a feeler, I began to put down my composition...

Here is the scene of the painting. A grey sky; a boulder strewn hill, with flat spaces of grey granite showing amongst the heather-clad sides sloping down to the moor below. Beyond that, undulating moors, fields and stone walls. Farther away, Guava Cairn, grey against the yet paler grey of the faint distant horizon beyond Morvah, and through all this the Land's End road curving away out of sight. Coming up the hill with hounds was Ned on the grey, the scarlet coat on low tones, the black velvet cap the darkest note of colour - a splendid subject...

I tried a huntsman riding in the valley below the hill, followed by the whole pack of hounds - a small figure in a vast landscape' (A.J. Munnings, An Artist's Life, London, 1950, p. 275-277).

Munnings has captured the stark primitive setting on Zennor by reconstructing the barren Winter landscape as well as the cold damp atmosphere of the region. In contrast to the hibernating foliage, void of life and movement, he conveys the motion of the horse as Grey Tick labors to reach the crest of the hill. Even the whip's exertion as he leans forward to help his mount up the incline is articulated. The fluid brushwork, especially in the foreground boulders and grasses, and the curvaceous flow of the road as it snakes into the distance increases the animation of the scene.

We are grateful to Lorian Peralta Ramos for her help in preparing this catalogue entry. This painting will be included in her forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the work of Sir Alfred Munnings.

Related Articles

View all
From war horses to royalty: th auction at Christies
‘Warhol dances a wonderful lin auction at Christies
Printemps Asiatique: highlight auction at Christies

More from Important Victorian & British Impressionist Art

View All
View All