A painting by the great Sir Alfred Munnings that was given as a gift to a lifelong friend, who he met through their mutual love of hunting, has sold for a six-figure sum.
The oil painting, “View from Selworthy”, was estimated to reach between £6,000 and £8,000 at Gildings Auctioneers’ online fine and decorative arts and antiques sale (27 April).
But the artwork far surpassed its valuation, to sell for almost 18 times its estimate, £105,000.
“After being exhibited in the Leicester Gallery in London in November 1947, ‘View from Selworthy’ has remained in the family ever since, and so the sale gave collectors a chance to acquire a truly fresh-to-market work by one of Britain’s most celebrated 20th century artists,” said Gildings’ director and 20th century decorative art specialist, Will Gilding.
“As a vocal critic of modernism, Munnings’ fine depictions of hunting scenes and rural landscapes such as the one seen here represent a deep affinity with a traditional rural way of life.”
The story behind the painting captures a snapshot of hunting history, hinted at through a plaque on the frame, which reads: “Presented to Miss Sybil Harker from members of the Norwich Staghounds as a token of their appreciation for all the work she did for The Hunt during her thirteen years of Mastership 1932-1945.”
Sir Alfred and Miss Harker became friends as a result of Munnings’ frequent rides out with the Norwich Staghounds, where he was given unofficial status as “artist to the hunt”.
Reflecting on this, he wrote: “I could fill a volume if I began to recount the many adventures and doings when following hounds in Norfolk.”
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Sir Alfred is one of the UK’s most distinguished modern equine and rural landscape artists, and Miss Harker is also the subject of one of his most famous paintings, “Sibyl Harker on Saxa, with the Norwich Staghounds”. This is a portrait of his friend riding side-saddle on her bay hunter, with her favourite hound in the foreground and Wymondham Abbey in the distance.
While “View from Selworthy” was presented to Miss Harker for her service to the hunt from 1932-1945, she returned to the role after the Second World War and was a master for more than 30 years in total.
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