Painted at Lamorna in Cornwall, where Munnings moved in 1910, this atmospheric portrait is of his fellow artist and friend, Doris H. Proctor, who was commonly known as 'Dod'. Dame Laura Knight also used her as a model and described her as 'a charming young thing with a brilliant complexion, enormous dark eyes and long, slender legs - swift and active as a gazelle' (see Dame Laura Knight, Oil Paint and Grease Paint, 1936, pp. 161-2).
Dod Proctor, neé Shaw (1892-1972), a talented artist, was born in London and studied under Stanhope Forbes in Newlyn, Cornwall between 1907-10, before attending the Atelier Colarossi in Paris. She returned to Newlyn in 1911 and the following year married the artist, Ernest Proctor. At this period there were several well established communities of artists centred around Newlyn and Lamorna, among who's leading lights were Laura Knight and Samuel Lamorna Birch. Munnings, travelling with Ned his groom and several horses, lodged with Mr. Jory at the Lamorna Inn and quickly became the centre of attention. While in Cornwall, Munnings executed a number of hunting pictures, as well as en plein air landscape and animal studies.
Ever the individualist, artistically Munnings was never really a part of the Newlyn School. Socially, however, he was the leading light and organiser of the numerous revelries that took place. While there he met and fell in love with Florence Carter-Wood. In 1912, Munnings married Florence, the daughter of a wealthy Cumberland brewery family, but the union was unhappy and brief.
By 1913, Munnings had more or less settled in Cornwall. The wild, treeless moorlands and craggy, granite cliffs of Cornwall provided the artist with stimulating and dramatic backgrounds for his compositions. He painted a number of pictures of his fellow artists on the Cornish coast. A work entitled Dod Proctor painting at Lamorna (Sotheby's London, 7 June 1978, lot 64) depicts the sitter at work on the beach. A work related to the present picture, Above the Wood (Sotheby's, London, 18 June 1997, lot 43) depicts the same model, Dod Proctor, also wearing a yellow head-scarf, white blouse and green skirt but taken from a slightly different viewpoint on a similar rock.
Munnings wrote in his memoirs: 'the sight and sound of the band of white, moving surf, six hundred feet below, at the foot of steep-pinnacled granite cliffs, which on some great headland stood like castles above the restless surging of the Atlantic ground-swell.
No words can decribe these scenic effects. On an August or September day, to lie on the sweet-smelling turf, watching seapinks trembling in light winds, and listening to the unceasing sound of the surf and cry of gulls, gives peace and rest to the body and soul ... I find myself more often longing to be back on those Cornish cliffs, lying in the sun, listening to the incessant sound of the surf' (see A.J. Munnings, An Artist's Life, Bungay, 1950, p. 271).