In 1920, at the invitation of Major Bouch, the Master of the Belvoir, the Duke of Rutland's hounds, Munnings visited Woolsthorpe in Lincolnshire where he had at his disposal horses, hounds and servants to create any composition he desired. It was here that Study of a clipped out black horse after a gallop was painted.
He took this extraordinary opportunity to use two of the Major's horses when composing Changing Horses which, ultimately, he created in two versions: one now in the collection of the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh (48 x 72 in.; 121.9 x 182.9 cm.) and another, location unknown (26 x 32 in.; 66 x 81.3 cm.). The present work is a preliminary sketch for these two paintings. Munnings places a fashionable lady (his wife was the model in full hunting regalia holding two horses, her tired dark bay on the right, sweating, head low, juxtaposed on the left with her fresh horse - a grey - head up, ears pricked forward, clearly responding to the baying of the nearby hounds.
Munnings writes in his autobiography about painting this series of works and how he diligently tried to capture the tired hunter, evidenced by the glistening of the sweat on the neck and withers of the dark bay horse, the saddle having just been removed by the groom. The head of the horse turns sympathetically toward the viewer, nostrils flaring. To achieve this perfect pose of an exhausted horse just off the hunt, Munnings had his wife gallop around the fields numerous times to get it sufficiently tired.
We would like to thank Lorian Peralta-Ramos for kindly assisting in cataloguing this work, which will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist.