Munnings, Alfred

Date: 1878-1959

Best known for his paintings of horses, Sir Alfred Munnings other paintings include pastoral scenes and portraits. From the age of fourteen, he attended the Norwich School of Art, whilst also working at his lithographic apprenticeship.

In 1899, he was elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour, and between 1912 and 1914 he was a member of the Newlyn School of artists. It was here that he met his first wife, painter Florence Carter-Wood. Her subsequent suicide attempt on their honeymoon, and later successful suicide in 1914, was the subject of scandal; with Munnings only speaking of her once after her death, to stated that the marriage was never consummated.

During the First World War, Munnings initially found work examining Canadian military horses, near Reading. He would later go to France as an official war artist attached to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade. From the 1920s until his death, Munnings obtained commissions from many society figures.

In 1944, Munnings was elected president of the Royal Academy of Arts. During his 1949 valedictory speech at an Academy dinner, an inebriated Munnings attacked modernism and in particular the works of CézanneMatisse, and Picasso, ultimately leading to his resignation at the end of the year.

After his death, his second wife, Violet, worked to establish an art museum at their Dedham home, now the Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum.

The University Art Collection holds one painting by Sir Alfred Munnings.

  • Art Collections

    University of Reading
    6 Redlands Road
    RG1 5EX

    Enter via The MERL Reception

    Need directions?