Sir Alfred James Munnings (British, 1878–1959)

Sir Alfred James Munnings (British, 1878–1959) 


Graphite, 8 ¾” x 11 ½” 
Dated May 20, 1918, inscribed: “In the Jura, Monday, May 20, 1918 Gordon Smith” 

Provenance: Frost & Reed, London 

Gordon Smith was a war correspondent who accompanied Munnings to the Jura mountains in eastern France to meet with the Canadian Forestry Corps, where records indicate they were placed May 18, 1918, two days before this work was done. 

Munnings tried to join the army during World War I but was rejected due to loss of sight in one eye, but he eventually found a job at a depot testing horses for mange and other parasites before they were shipped o to the front lines. He later was given the opportunity to join the Canadian Cavalry Brigade in France under the command of General Jack Seely as an artist to record their maneuvers. Seely later became a close personal friend of Munnings. He recounted their time on the front in his memoirs, describing the civilian Munnings out in the cold standing in the mud painting the general on his famed horse Warrior, the far background of the painting being German territory. The Canadian authorities never had any intention of allowing Munnings that close to the front lines, but he produced his best work to that point. His reputation grew so that the Canadian Forestry Corps demanded he join them to document their efforts in supplying lumber. Munnings recalled in his autobiography An Artist’s Life that “They not only persuaded me — they assured me, in spite of more orders from London to return, that they were going to kidnap me and all of my paraphernalia.”

Estimate: 5,000 - 7,000

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