Sir Alfred Munnings was born of old East Anglian farming stock on the 8th October 1878.He revealed artistic talents at a very early age. Munnings became a poster artist at the age of 14.Many examples of his posters are to be seen in the Studio, at Castle House Museum, Debham, Colchester, the former home of Munnings.He attended the Norwich School of art. One of Munnings earliest commissions was of John Shaw Tomkins' father, posing on a garden seat with his collie dog, and the picture "Daniel Tomkins and his Dog" has been acquired for the Museum.In 1898, whilst still an apprentice at Pages, Munnings had his painting, the delightful picture 'Stranded' accepted and hung by the Royal Academy. The original painting is in the Bristol Art gallery and a print can be seen at Castle House Museum.This was to be the first of his 230 pictures hung in the Royal Academy up to 1949. Munnings lost the sight of his right eye in an accident when he was twenty. Alfred Munnings's world-wide fame is based on his painting of racehorses, yet before 1919, when he was elected an ARA, he had never painted a thoroughbred and it is arguable that his best work was produced in the period 1898 to 1914 with his recording of the English and particularly the East Anglian rural scene in all its aspects of skies, landscapes, animal and human character portrayal.Apart from his great versatility as a painter, his ability as a sculptor, as witnessed by the bronze 'Brown Jack' commissioned for the Jockey Club, a casting of which is at Castle House Museum, was of high order and he rounded off a full and exciting life by a remarkable autobiography running to three volumes of reminiscence and comments on the English scene over seventy years.
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