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Sir Alfred James Munnings
(British, 1878-1959)
Title:The White Canoe
Medium:Oil on Canvas on Panel
Size:12" x 16"
Markings:Signed lower right

Alfred Munnings was born 8 October 1878 at Mendham, Suffolk across the River Waveney from Harleston in Norfolk. At fourteen he was apprenticed to a Norwich printer, designing and drawing advertising posters for the next six years, attending the Norwich School of Art in his spare time. When his apprenticeship ended, he became a full time painter. The loss of sight in his right eye in an accident in 1898 did not deflect his determination to paint, and in 1899 two of his pictures were shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. He painted rural scenes, frequently of subjects such as Gypsies and horses.

He was associated with the Newlyn School of painters

Although he volunteered to join the Army, he was assessed as unfit to fight but was assigned to one the horse remount depots on the Western Front.

He was employed as war artist to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade under the patronage of Max Aitken in the latter part of the war. During the war he painted several scenes including a mounted portrait of General Jack Seely on Warrior and the cavalry charge at the Battle of Morieul Wood when Gordon Flowerdew earned his Victoria Cross.

Munnings was elected president of the Royal Academy of Art in 1944, a post he held until 1949. His presidency is most famous for the departing speech he gave in 1949, attacking modernism. The broadcast was heard by millions of listeners to BBC radio.

He was awarded a knighthood in 1944. He died at Castle House, Dedham, Essex, on 17 July 1959. After his death, his wife turned their home in Dedham into a museum of his work.

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