Munnings discusses the present painting, showing Shrimp, his favourite model in the centre, in the context of his plein air Norwich paintings: 'When painting figures out of doors I try to place myself in an obscure spot, where alone I can concentrate on the subject before me, undisturbed and out of sight ... It may be that I harp too long and often on memories of these painting outings, but I find they have marked my course from year to year. A valley, with meadows by the river for the horses and ponies was an ideal painting ground; an open-air studio ... how still were the pools in the river on August days! How pleasant was the sound of the mill!
In that secluded spot, far from any road or by-way - seen only by a mill-hand or farm-worker - I painted in absolute abandonment. Every artist has a favourite painting of his own. Although it may be sold and gone long ago, he still clings to the memory of it being the happiest and best arrangement he ever contrived on canvas. My favourite picture, "A Summer Afternoon", was painted there - a picture of dappled sunlight and shadow on a group of horses, ponies and a lad, by a fence under an overhanging tree. With two or three helpers to keep off the flies, the animals stood there each day for weeks when the sun shone. I keep that shady spot in mind, recalling how it once became a quagmire after a storm of rain. Where the picture may be now I do not know. A collector, of whom more anon bought it and sold it with others for double the amount he had given me' (see Sir A. Munnings, op. cit., pp.236, 238).
The 'collector' that Munnings referred to was his friend, F.H. Crittall, who owned a number of Munnings' works including the famous watercolour of The Piper. It was he who helped Munnings find his 'dream house, river and all', Castle House, Dedham, and Crittall also gave a dinner at the Great Eastern Hotel on Derby night in honour of Munnings election to full membership the Royal Academy.
Shrimp was the illegitimate son of a house-maid at Narford Hall, near Swaffham, he had run away from home and school to make a living by working with horses. With his connections to the horse dealer James Drake, he became an irresistable model for Munnings. 'Shrimp, that utterley uneducated, wild, ageless youth, [who] slept underneath Drake's caravan. When not wanted, he lay on the dusty ground or grass (each came alike to him), smoked cigarettes, and played with the lesser dogs, lurchers and children'. With the help of Shrimp, Munnings bought a grey Welsh mare from Drake in 1910 for twenty pounds, which together with Shrimp formed the central theme in almost all of Munnings' Norwich paintings' (see Sir A. Munnings, op. cit. pp.207-227; and J. Goodman, What a Go, The Life of Alfred Munnings, London, 1988, pp.83-93).