BRI­TAIN’S ‘WAR HORSE’ ARTIST

The Na­tional army mu­seum is ex­hibit­ing The col­lected work of fa­mous bri­tish pain­ter sir al­fred mun­nings for The first Time since 1919

History of War - - MUSEUMS & EVENTS -

Sir Al­fred Mun­nings (1878-1959) was one of Bri­tain’s finest pain­ters of horses, who se­cured his artis­tic rep­u­ta­tion while serv­ing as the of­fi­cial war artist for the Cana­dian War Memo­ri­als Fund. Mun­nings had trained at the Nor­wich School of Art and was a pro­fes­sional pain­ter when war broke out. De­spite vol­un­teer­ing, he was reg­is­tered as un­fit to fight in the Bri­tish Army, which ul­ti­mately led him to work for the Cana­di­ans.

The Cana­dian War Memo­ri­als Fund had been founded by Lord Beaver­brook to doc­u­ment and memo­ri­alise the Cana­dian war ef­fort at home and over­seas through paint­ings and sculp­tures. Mun­nings’s task was to cap­ture the front­line and lo­gis­ti­cal work be­hind the lines on can­vas, and he was dis­patched to the Western Front in early 1918. Em­bed­ded in the Cana­dian Ex­pe­di­tionary Force, Mun­nings’s paint­ings fo­cused on equine themes, and he mov­ingly wrote about the horses he en­coun­tered: “They have been my sup­port­ers, friends – my des­tiny in fact. Look­ing back at my life, in­ter­wo­ven with theirs – paint­ing them, feed­ing them, rid­ing them, think­ing about them – I hope that I have learned to un­der­stand their ways.”

Run­ning be­tween 30 Novem­ber 2018 and 3 March 2019 at the Na­tional Army Mu­seum, ‘Al­fred Mun­nings: War Artist, 1918’ is dis­play­ing 41 of Mun­nings’s orig­i­nal paint­ings, par­tic­u­larly his wartime work. The ex­hi­bi­tion has been de­vel­oped by the Cana­dian War Mu­seum in part­ner­ship with the Mun­nings Art Mu­seum and is spon­sored by the Beaver­brook Cana­dian Foun­da­tion. The paint­ings are also sup­ple­mented by the NAM’S own col­lec­tion re­lat­ing to Gen­eral Jack Seely, who com­manded the Cana­dian Cav­alry Bri­gade dur­ing the war.

This is the first dis­play of Mun­nings’s war paint­ings since 1919, and the ex­hi­bi­tion is split into six themes: ‘The Artist’, ‘Forg­ing a Vis­ual Legacy’, ‘Dev­as­ta­tion and Beauty’, ‘A Mo­bile Fight­ing Force’, ‘Sup­ply­ing the War Ma­chine’ and ‘A Rep­u­ta­tion Forged in War’. These themes show Mun­nings’s emerg­ing mas­tery of equine sub­jects, por­trai­ture and pas­toral im­ages.

Mark O’neill, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Cana­dian War Mu­seum and Cana­dian Mu­seum of His­tory, says, “It is a plea­sure to share works by Al­fred Mun­nings with an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence. His paint­ings of First World War scenes – from the men and horses who served in wartime, to forests and bat­tle­fields – are an evoca­tive re­flec­tion not only of Canada’s mil­i­tary his­tory, but the de­vel­op­ment of one of Eng­land’s best-known artists.”

Tick­ets for the Mun­nings ex­hi­bi­tion can be booked in ad­vance and cost

£6 (plus con­ces­sions).

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