The present work is one of four pictures painted at Langham-on-Stour, a small village on the river which divides the counties of Essex and Suffolk, three miles from the artist's home in Dedham. The fact that Munnings focused on the foreground foliage distinguishes this work from the others.
Munnings held a particularly strong affection for Langham Mill Pool, an idyllic spot which he describes in the first volume of his autobiography, 'To use the word Arcadia here is not affectation. No other word could describe Langham Mill, its lock, bridge, mill-pool, floodgates and trees. No miller's daughter out of a Tennyson poem ever dwelt in such a spot as this ... From 1919 to 1935 I used to paint there, bathe there, row there in a boat, walk there, ride there. To know it was three miles away gave me a distinct happiness' (see A.J. Munnings, An Artist's Life, Bungay, 1950, p. 120).
The present work bears a poignant inscription which speaks volumes, and Munnings continues in his book to describe the shocking impact of modern progress on his 'Arcadia' in the hands of the London and South Essex Water Board, 'A vast, concrete, Egyptian-looking temple of a pumping-station stands where the mill once stood ... Nothing worse could happen to a pleasant valley. A river that was once always full, bearing barges on its bosom to Sudbury, is often now a ditch ... Constable's age has gone, ours is here' (op. cit. p. 121).
The present work is a magnificent example of Munnings's versatility; known primarily as a sporting artist, Langham Mill Pool demonstrates his superlative artistry as a landscape painter. With impressionistic brushstrokes he captures the sky reflected in the dappled water, creating an illusion of a fleeting summer moment. Reginald Pound comments, '[It is] an almost perfect rendering of the green and gold gaity of a late spring day, its effects of light and air space seized with an intensity of vision that seemed to make the canvas quiver' (see R. Pound, The Englishman, London, 1962, p. 36).
Munnings had an obvious fondness for the present work, and still owned it when it was exhibited in 1956, over thirty years after he had painted it.