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New film and show celebrate iconic equestrian artist Munnings

The genius of one of England’s greatest equine artists, Sir Alfred Munnings, is being celebrated with a major exhibition of his work and a feature film.

More than 50 works went on show at the Richard Green Gallery in Bond Street, London on 14 November.

The film Summer in February — starring Dominic Cooper as Munnings and Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame as his friend Gilbert Evans (pictured) — is currently in post-production. It is due to be released in the new year.

Richard Green told H&H “the time was ripe to stage a show spanning Munnings’ career”.

He added that works such as Miss Millicent Baron on Magpie show Munnings’ “understanding of the personality and anatomy of a fine horse”.

The film tells the story of the early part of Munnings’ career. Based on the novel by Jonathan Smith, it tells the tragic love affair between the artist and his first wife Florence, who is depicted in the painting Two Lady Riders Under An Evening Sky.

Producer Jeremy Cowdrey told H&H he was amazed that no one had filmed the story before.

“Munnings as a personality and character was so interesting and lively,” he said. “He bounced off the page in the novel and Dominic Cooper, playing him in the film, just bounces off the screen.”

James Johnston of the Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum in Dedham, Essex — which lent 25 works to the exhibition — said he hoped renewed interest in the artist would make people realise “how incredibly good” he was.

“There is a slight feeling that Munnings has not had the recognition he deserves.

“But there is a section of the population — including your readers — that is aware of the brilliant way he painted horses, whether standing, hunting or at the beginning of a race,” he added.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (22 November 2012)

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