Gypsies provided ideal subjects for Munnings: the colourful characters, brightly-painted caravans and scores of horses, donkeys and dogs fascinated the artist from an early age. He painted them throughout his life, encamped at country fairs, at the races and at Binstead near Alton in Hampshire during the hop-picking season.
Gypsies and their camps were a major theme for Munnings between 1913 and 1919 and the rich harvest that he produced culminated in a highly acclaimed exhibition at James Connell, London, in 1920. Munnings's gypsy pictures caused Paul Konody (art critic for Observer and Daily Mail), to proclaim that Munnings was, 'The most English of all living painters ... He is a lover of open-air life. His farmers, hop pickers, gypsies, tinkers, vagabonds ... who spend the best part of their lives under the dome of heaven, among fields and hedgerows - are not merely chosen by him for their picturesque appearance, but because his sympathies go out to them. Whatever he paints is deeply felt, and every stoke of his brush is inspired by his depth of feeling, which is of the very essence of significant art'.
Although the names of these particular gypsies or 'travellers' are unknown, they modelled for Munnings on numerous occasions.
The present work is a quiet, lyrical evocation of gypsy life filled with Munnings's nostalgia for the freedom of a life lived close to nature.
This work will be included in Lorian Peralta-Ramos's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the works of Sir Alfred Munnings.