‘Of all my painting experiences, none were so alluring and colourful as those visits spent amongst the gypsy hop-pickers in Hampshire each September’ wrote Munnings ‘More glamour and excitement were packed into those six weeks than a painter could well contend with. I still have a vision of brown faces, black hair, earrings, black hats and black skirts; of lithe figures of women and children, of men with lurcher dogs and horses of all kinds... Never in my life have I been so filled with a desire to work as I was then' (A.J. Munnings, An Artist's Life, Bungay, 1950, pp. 287-9).
Munnings was first introduced to the gypsies in 1913 by his friend, Olive Branson, who had a house in Hampshire and would spend part of each year travelling around England and Ireland in a caravan with several gypsy families. Each autumn the gypsies would congregate at Binstead in Hampshire for the hop-picking season. Munnings focused on a small group of gypsy families, who were closely inter-related, including Stevens, Gray, Gregory, Loveday and Lee. Inspired by these new and exciting subjects Munnings painted a series of works of the gypsies going about their daily life. A number of young artists, including Augustus John also had painted groups of gypsies at around this time.
The painting will be included the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the work of Sir Alfred Munnings being prepared by Lorian Peralta-Ramos.