In 1940, whilst the artist's Suffolk home, Castle House, Dedham, was requisitioned by the army, Munnings moved to the lodge at Withypool, Somerset, which had been his wife's hunting retreat from the early 1920s. Porlock Hill on Exmoor is a notoriously steep hill on the route between Minehead and Lynton on the north coast of Somerset and a few miles away from Withypool.
The artist produced some wonderfully vibrant landscapes whilst staying there and found himself torn between his love of Norfolk and Suffolk and the new and dramatic vistas offered by the wild Exmoor countryside: 'I seem to be settled in this summer-house on the top lawn. I write to the smell of drying lavender, which lies on sacks of horse-food stored here - a war starvation substitution for oat-husks. It is a blessing to know that on Exmoor real oats can be bought. Strong scents of phlox grown in masses of pink and white come through doors and windows. Such a breezy, bright morning, with clouds sailing over Withypool Hill opposite, is fatal to me, for I must be off on a horse. There are no flies on days like this. Am I losing hold on Suffolk and Norfolk? Is this wild country casting its net over me? Exmoor, with its storms of "untimely violence" and its gales of wind and rain, can change its face and smile, resuming "God's gentle, sleeping peace", so that in the end everybody would stay if they could, or come again as they do' (A.J. Munnings, An Artist's Life, Bungay, 1940, p. 87).
This work will be included in Lorian Peralta-Ramos's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the works of Sir Alfred Munnings.