Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S. (British, 1878-1959)
Property from the Collection of Montgomery “Montie” H.W. Ritchie
Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S. (British, 1878-1959)

My Horse 'Anarchist'

Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S. (British, 1878-1959)
My Horse 'Anarchist'
signed 'A. J. Munnings' (lower left)
oil on panel
20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm.)
Painted at Withypool, circa mid 1940s.
with The Leicester Galleries, London, before 1947.
Mrs. C. Birkbeck, acquired from the above, November 1947.
with W. Boswell and Son, Norwich.
A. J. Munnings, The Finish, Bungay, 1952, pp. 71-72.
London, Leicester Galleries, "The English scene": horses, racing, landscapes, and studies by Sir Alfred James Munnings P.R.A., Oct.-Nov., 1947, p. 8, no. 82.

Lot Essay

Munnings begins his memoir with a chapter devoted to horses, giving them credit for his success. 'I want to start with horses. Although they have given me much trouble and many sleepless nights, they have been my supporters, friends – my destiny, in fact. Looking back at my life, interwoven with theirs… I hope I have learned something of their ways…I have never ceased trying to understand them…[They are] friends which have helped to place me where I now stand.' (An Artist’s Life, Bungay 1950, page 14).
Munnings had been totally enamored with horses from an early age so it is obvious that he should have painted them as subject matter. Not only did he excel at capturing a good likeness, for which he could command a healthy sum even as a young boy, his knowledge of horses went beyond mere equine form. Munnings understood his subjects and could transcribe their character onto canvas.
Munnings describes Anarchist as the best ride he ever rode and 'a bold, clever, unassuming and well-mannered horse, with a calm outlook on life' (ibid, 1950, page 13). Two years later, Munnings recalls how the details of painting this present portrait of his favorite horse as well as the qualities that he successfully captured. 'Anarchist…beautifully fit and clipped and all, mane water-brushed is fetched out in a bridle and led to the wine-coloured garage doors; a hay net is hung in front of him. He is placed square alongside the doors, his quarters coming against the door of the first box…I am sheltered from any wind by the horse-rugs on the line; I am hidden from view of passers-by in the road by a stripped blanket, and I start. It is difficult to place a horse on his feet as ever… I go for the attitude…I paint him looking at me, a three-quarters side view, almost side, seeing into his chest…He continually turns his head all alert and listening, towards where I stand…that fine alert expression, the bright, healthy eye..The clipped out colour. What modeling! Solid and hard.'
The young boy is one of three Delaney brothers that Munnings took under his wing and cared for. In return, they frequently acted as grooms. Munnings liked this composition and he repeated a similar scene with another of the Delaney brothers. This second version is illustrated in An Artist’s Life, opposite page 16 and was exhibited in New York at Wildenstein gallery in 1983, no. 82.
We are grateful to Lorian Peralta-Ramos for confirming the authenticity of this work, which will be included in her forthcoming Sir Alfred Munnings catalogue raisonné, and for contributing the catalogue note.

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