Despite the lucrative nature of commission work and the great success that Munnings achieved with his equestrian portraits, he often preferred to paint scenes of his own choosing and in these he often sought to combine his two passions: horses and the countryside. The present view is an intimate and informal moment, away from the hustle and bustle of the horse fair indicated in the title, Munnings depicts a young dealer holding two horses in their blankets under the dappled light of the trees.
The whole scene glows with light and tranquility, an effect achieved by masterly handling of the paint combined with an instinctive sense of composition. The composition compels the eye to acknowledge the elements of the picture; the dark bay directs our attention to the central horse which is looking at us, the central horse's head is at the apex of a triangle emphasising its importance. The eye then moves on to the horses beyond under the trees completing the passage of the picture. The effect is one of relaxed informality.
Munnings was fascinated by the effects of light and shade and the broad, bold impressionistic brushstrokes capture the dappled light with economy. The trees are created with abstract passages of colour and the fleeting sunlight caught by spontaneous dabs of fluent paint. The central horse's head is framed with an aura of light, echoed in the horse blanket and picked up in the shafts of light on the ground. Munnings uses the same green colour that is reflected from the trees and ground as highlights and shadows on the horses themselves.
Munnings would appear to have made only one visit to Ireland in 1922, during which he completed the present work and also Kilkenny Horse Fair (see lot 72). Always sensitive to his surroundings, in both these works he responds to the sights he sees and the people he meets, capturing the essence and feel of the country.
This work will be included in Lorian Peralta-Ramos's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the works of Sir Alfred Munnings.