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Alfred James Munnings Lot 86
Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S., (British, 1878-1959)
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Property from the Estate of Gladys (Patsy) Preston
Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S., (British, 1878-1959)

Portrait of Charles and Grace Amory

Details
Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S., (British, 1878-1959)
Portrait of Charles and Grace Amory
signed 'A. J. Munnings' (lower left)
oil on canvas
33 ½ x 38 ¼ in. (85.1 x 97.2 cm.)
Provenance
The artist.
Herbert Pulitzer, Palm Beach and New York (1896-1957).
By descent to the present owners.
Literature
A. Munnings, The Second Burst, London, 1951, pp. 214, 226-227, illustrated.
Exhibited
New York, Howard Young Gallery, Paintings of Horses, Sporting Events and English life by A. J. Munnings, 11-23 February 1929, no 8.

Condition report

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Lot Essay

Portraits of children are rare in Munnings’ oeuvre but they are perhaps the most poignant. Unlike Munnings’ portraits of adults in which horsemanship abilities are equally or sometimes of greater importance than human and equine likeness, the equestrian portraits of children on their horses have a particular freshness. They can be seen as an expression of youth and innocence.
Munnings was commissioned by Mr. Pulitzer from New York to undertake an equestrian group of his step-children in the Highlands. Munnings refers to the trip to Glenfiddich Lodge (fig. 1) in the second volume of his autobiography,
'My painting has even taken me to the Highlands, to a long, low house in the grouse moors somewhere above Dufftown. This was a shooting-lodge rented from the Duke of Richmond and Gordon by the Pulitzers of New York. There I painted a fair, curly-headed brother and his sister, a girl with the longest and most beautiful tresses I ever saw, both riding thick, Highland garrons, by a running, Highland stream with a hill background. Rain, which never stopped, made this a memorable visit.' (The Second Burst, pp. 226-227).
Rather than illustrating formal horsemanship skills, both Amory children sit casually in the saddle, clearly enjoying a splendid day out riding in the Scottish highlands. The lack of formality and seemingly carefree attitude is emphasized by the children’s totally inappropriate riding attire – a skirt and shorts with bared knees.
Scottish paintings by Munnings are rare but he did have fond memories of his stay at Glenfiddich Lodge 'Coming into the house soaked from a late walk on the moor, the nostrils filled with the incomparable scents of peat and heather, one met an entirely opposing scent: the fragrant, voluptuous smell of bath-salts pervading the whole interior: for this shooting-lodge was all on the ground floor. A Scottish piper in full dress – tartan, kilt and bagpipes – walked around the whole length of the corridors at eight o’clock in the morning playing Scottish airs, or dirges, and still it rained' (The Second Burst, pp. 227).
The work has a notably bright palette and the brilliance of the scene is a forerunner to the radiance of color seen in Munnings later racing scenes.
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 her assistance in preparing this catalogue note.

(fig. 1) Photograph of Glenfiddich Lodge, Dufftown, UK.

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