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Creator:
Sir Alfred J. Munnings, 1878–1959, British
Title:

Point-to-Point Meeting

Date:
1920
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
20 x 24 1/8 inches (50.8 x 61.3 cm)
Inscription(s)/Marks/Lettering:

Signed, lower right: "A. J. Munnings"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
© Estate of Sir Alfred Munnings
Accession Number:
B1996.22.35
Classification:
Paintings
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
equestrian | horses (animals) | jockeys | meeting | preparation | race (event) | riding boots | riding habit | spectators | sportsmen | tailcoats | tent | top hat | whip
Associated Places:
England | Lincolnshire | United Kingdom
Access:
Not on view
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:5066
Export:
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IIIF Manifest:
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A point-to-point is a short horse race of about three and a half miles, most often run by hunters associated with a particular pack of foxhounds. In the spring of 1920 Munnings painted a number of pictures of the point-to-point meeting of the Belvoir hunt on Barrowby Hill in Lincolnshire, and the present sketch is likely from that campaign of work. Through both its design and execution it captures the lively atmosphere of the preparations before the race, when riders, grooms, spectators, and hangers-on mingle in anticipation of the event. By his own account Munnings had little desire to be simply a painter: his ruling passion was the beauty and nobility of horses and their riders. Some of the thrill he felt at the sight of horses in motion comes through in his memory of an early visit to the races, while he was still working as a commercial draftsman:
I saw the thoroughbred horses and jockeys in bright silk colours, going off down the course. The peaceful School of Art, the smelly artists' room at Page Brothers faded away and I began to live!1
This painting represents the kind of uncommissioned sketch he most enjoyed painting, its fresh, animated surface suggesting the pleasure and freedom he felt as an observer of such events. His reputation as a painter of equestrian subjects was launched in 1918, when he painted a large-scale portrait of a Canadian military commander, Major-General the Rt. Hon. J. E. B. Seely, on horseback (Canadian War Museum, Ottawa). In the wake of his efforts as a war artist, Munnings was rapidly inundated with requests for similar portraits, and as a result he began to move in the highest circles of society. The son of a Suffolk miller, he cherished his newfound social standing and its accompanying lifestyle but despised the means by which he had to support himself. Nevertheless, he seldom refused such commissions, saying, "you can't throw good money away."2
Like any sporting artist, Munnings looked to Stubbs for inspiration and considered Stubbs's The Anatomy of the Horse one of the shaping forces in his own artistic career. But the Point-to-Point Meeting also attests to the extent to which he was aware of the artistic climate in which he lived. His use of bright color to create highlights and shadows-most evident in the haunches of the horse in profile-shows his stylistic affinities with the proponents of British Impressionism, and particularly with the ?ashy, virtuoso brand of that style practiced by John Singer Sargent, whom he called "the last bright flame of a glorious world for the artist."3 Despite his vehement opposition to anything "modern," moreover, Munnings painted figures and forms that are strangely abstract, often described only by broad, ?at brushstrokes and dabs of thick paint.

Julia Marciari-Alexander

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 130, no. 52, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA)

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of South Australia, 1998-09-16 - 1998-11-15) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Queensland Art Gallery, 1998-07-15 - 1998-09-06) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1998-05-01 - 1998-07-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 130, no. 52, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Paul Mellon's Legacy, a passion for British art. [large print labels] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 1, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA) [YCBA]

Point to Point (1906), Connoisseur, Vol. 187, November 1974, p. 39, N1 C75 + (YCBA) [YCBA]


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