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

Idle Moments; or The Boathouse

Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S. (1878-1959)
Idle Moments; or The Boathouse
signed 'A. J. Munnings' (lower right)
oil on canvas
20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 60.9 cm.)
painted in 1906
with James D. Connell, London.
A.H. Heath, by whom given to The Red Cross in 1942.
The Red Cross sale; Christie's, London, 9 October 1942, lot 93 (30 gns to Sunlight).
Mr and Mrs Joseph Sunlight and by descent to the present owner.
N. Garstin, International Studio, The Paintings of A.J.Munnings, June 1913, vol. 59, no. 243, illustrated p. 256 as 'The Boathouse'.
A.J. Munnings, An Artist's Life, London, 1950, p. 251 (illustrated opposite p. 200).
S. Booth, Sir Alfred Munnings, 1878-1959, London, 1978, p. 64. (illustrated).
London, James Connell & Sons', Exhibition of Paintings by A. J. Munnings, 1919, no. 18 (illustrated in the catalogue).
Norwich, Norwich Castle Museum, Loan Collection of Pictures illustrating the work of A. J. Munnings, R.A., 1928, no. 68.
Dedham, The Sir Alfred Munnings Museum at Castle House, Sir Alfred Munnings K.C.V.O., 1979, Tudor Gallery, no. 5.
On loan to the Sir Alfred Munnings Museum, 1978-2012.
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.

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Bernice Owusu
Bernice Owusu

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Lot Essay

Childhood memories and impressions are not only the strongest but are life-long. Munnings grew up in Mendham on the river Waveney and his house was part of the mill where his father was the miller. Every night he heard the sound of the water and the roar of the waterwheel as it turned. The lure of the river was a powerful force throughout his life and he was always happiest near the sound of water. He recalls in his memoirs that the river was his playground and in later life, given a choice on a warm sunny day between a day out sailing or a day at the races, being on the water was preferred.

This scene is the boathouse at Mendham and shows two unknown ladies perhaps setting out for an evening outing. The lady in the back reclines and contentedly settles in for the ride. Meanwhile, her friend has picked up one oar but appears to be organizing something in the bow. Her twisted form is juxtaposed to the vertical lines of the wooden pylons yet compliments the curve of the boat itself. The line comprised of the oar and her arms mimic the 45 degree angle of the dark wooden pylons and roof thereby creating a pleasing and cohesive compositional arrangement. Stylistically the fluid impressionistic lines of the dress fabric and the shimmering background ripples of water echo each other and contrast with the smooth sweeping lines comprising the boat.

The picture was painted in 1906 and is the earliest boating theme, foreshadowing his series of ladies in canoes painted in the 1930's and 40's. He always had an eye for fashionable ladies and despite this being a casual scene, the ladies are in their summer finery.

It can not be determined whether Munnings had seen any paintings of ladies boating or canoeing while on his various trips to the Continent at the turn of the century, but boating and the shimmering effects of light on water was a common theme amongst Barbizon and Impressionist painters.

Munnings is quoted in International Studio (loc. cit.): 'I like to paint light and the effect of it on things and movement, and I believe in direct painting when possible, and not too large a canvas'.

We would like to thank Lorian Peralta-Ramos for her help in preparing the catalogue entry for this work, which will be included in her forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Sir Alfred Munnings.

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