In the catalogue introduction to the 1938 exhibition S. Kennedy North commented, 'In no country house in all England where you gather and talk "horsey" is the name Munnings, dismissed with a wave of the hand. You discuss the points of his horses as an equal with him. He is a master in the portraiture of the horse, just as Stubbs was, and he has neither flattered nor insulted Stubbs by imitating him. The glossy flank, the springy step, the heraldic blazonry of chase and race are here to quicken your blood, reminding you time and again of a wide range of essentially English emotions which you alone can enjoy' (see S. Kennedy North, Exhibition catalogue, Paintings by A.J. Munnings, R.A. since 1928, London, Leicester Galleries, p. 7).
The present work is based on the model which Munnings developed in the inter-war years. Its format is clearly derived from Stubbs, whose work Munnings much admired. Munnings desire above all was to portray the life in his horses, whether in formal posed equestrian portraits, in relaxed scenes amidst the bucolic English countryside, or in the racing pictures at which he excelled.
In Going down we see a spirited horse poised on it's way to the race, both jockey and horse entirely focussed on the race ahead. The landscape in the background is that of Withypool, by restricting the background to a minimum, attention is kept entirely on the subject.
The present owner's father became friends with the artist when Munnings rented a house in Withypool during the war.
This work will be included in Lorian Peralta-Ramos's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the works of Sir Alfred James Munnings.