A lost painting by British artist Alfred Munnings being auctioned off by Bonhams next month after being discovered in a garden shed. The untitled, undated watercolor painting depicts a rural scene, with a pair of cows grazing in front of hay wagons. The traditional British work is expected to be among the highlights at the auction house’s East Anglian Picture Sale in Knightsbridge, on Tuesday, November 18th, carrying an estimate of £8,000–12,000.
An unidentified individual brought the artwork to a valuation day at Bonhams Reepham, as well as a hoard of other prints and paintings that he had been storing in his garden shed. The individual was interested to know if any of the works were of any value, little did the owner realsie that the landscape was by the famous East Anglian artist.
Munnings volunteered to join the Army during World War I, but was assessed as unfit to fight. In 1917, his participation in the war was limited to a civilian job outside Reading, processing tens of thousands of Canadian horses en route to France — and often to death. Later, he was assigned to one of the horse remount depots on the Western Front. Munnings’ talent was employed in his position as war artist to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade. During the war he painted many scenes, including a mounted portrait of General Jack Seely Warrior in 1918 which now in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Munnings worked on this canvas a few thousand yards from the German front lines. The artist was later was elected president of the Royal Academy of Art in 1944.
“Most of the pictures were prints of little value so I was astonished when the Munnings emerged,” said the Bonhams picture specialist Daniel Wright. “It was just about the last picture to be brought out of the car and it came as a great surprise. Fortunately it must have been a dry shed, and the picture is in good condition.”
The sale will feature no less than four works by the Munnings, including a pen and ink self portrait of the artist at work at his easel, estimated at £3,000–5,000 and ‘Hamlet’, which is a chestnut horse before horse chestnuts, an oil painting of a Hackney horse with a pre-sale estimate of £20,000–30,000.