Norfolk

Alfred Munnings restored drawings go on display in Norwich

Alfred Munnings, Swainsthorpe Studio, c1910 Image copyright Estate of Sir Alfred Munnings
Image caption Sir Alfred Munnings was born in Suffolk and has a museum dedicated to him in Essex

Newly-restored drawings by Sir Alfred Munnings during his student days have gone on display at his old art school.

The 14 drawings were uncovered in the Norwich School of Art archives, where the artist, best known for his horse paintings, took evening classes.

It cost £30,000 to preserve the works, using funds from public donations and commercial sponsors.

Curator Dr Caroline Fisher said some of the drawings would have eroded if they were not treated.

Image caption Dr Fisher said some of the drawings would have eroded if they were not treated

The works have gone on display at what is now Norwich University of the Arts, alongside some of Munnings' paintings from his early career.

Dr Fisher said some of the drawings "needed different treatment, some more than others".

She said: "Most of them had been mounted on board that was acidic in nature, an old-fashioned type of hard cardboard, which if it was left, would've eroded the drawings.

"That had to be removed, they had to be lifted off the board, and then cleaned, relined and remounted."

Image copyright Estate of Sir Alfred Munnings
Image caption The drawings have gone on display with some of Sir Alfred's oil paintings, including The Ford
Image caption Some of the drawings had to be removed from acidic mounts

Dr Fisher said the drawings from Sir Alfred's early career in the 1890s demonstrated his "emerging expertise as a draughtsman".

She said it was "fascinating" to see the early figure and horse studies alongside the oil paintings, on loan from the Munnings Art Museum in Dedham, Essex.

"Partly because the oil paintings are slightly later, you can see the direction he was moving in, that he was becoming looser in his approach, that he was using colour really confidently," she said.

Sir Alfred Munnings

Image copyright Estate of Sir Alfred Munnings
  • Born at Mendham Mill on the Suffolk/Norfolk border in 1878
  • In 1898, he lost his sight in his right eye after an incident helping a puppy over a bramble
  • He had his first works accepted at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1899
  • In 1918, he was appointed to be a war artist in France for the Canadian Cavalry Brigade
  • He was knighted by George VI in 1944
  • Oil painting The Red Prince Mare sold for £5m in 2004

Source: The Munnings Art Museum, Dedham, Essex

Sir Alfred attended evening classes at Norwich School of Art 1893-1897 and worked as an apprentice for printers Page Brothers and later as a designer for chocolatier Caley's of Norwich and Colman's Mustard but wanted to be able to make a living from painting.

Image caption Curator Dr Caroline Fisher said it was "fascinating" to see Sir Alfred Munnings' drawings alongside his oil paintings
Image caption The works were created while Sir Alfred was a student in Norwich
Image copyright Sir Alfred Munnings
Image caption There are 14 pieces of art in the collection

He spent his later life at Dedham in Essex where his former home was turned into the Munnings Art Museum after his death in 1959.

The Revealing Munnings exhibition helps mark the 60th anniversary of his death.

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