Painted circa 1948, the scene of unsaddling in the winner's enclosure was one of Munnings' favourite subjects. This is a study for In the Unsaddling Enclosure at Epsom (The Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum, Dedham, Essex). Other studies include a version with a chestnut horse, illustrated Sir Alfred Munnings, The Finish, Bungay, 1952, p. 232 and Unsaddling at Epsom, a study (sold Christie's, London, 23 May 2008, lot 157). In addition, Munnings painted and kept a number of other versions for his own collection.
Munnings described such a scene at Epsom in his autobiography, 'Since Epsom had been to me a source of inspiration from the Grand Parade's Derby onwards, I should be leaving a considerable gap if I did not write my own impressions of Epsom Races, as they are called in plain lettering on the race-cards of the meetings...For years and years my next hurried move has always been to the grass ring with the white rail, where the winner is led in. The surrounding pebbled enclosure is quickly crowded - everyone waiting to see the Derby winner. For a few moments this one particular animal occupies the thoughts of all who are waiting there. Such a race and finish has had the same effect on every looker-on. Nothing else in the world matters for the time being to those discussing it....I must have seen hundreds of winners of races in that ring...' (A.J. Munnings, op.cit., p. 220 and p. 230).
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the works of Sir Alfred Munnings being prepared by Lorian Peralta-Ramos.