The Fair, a sporting painting by Sir Alfred James Munnings which captures the hustle and bustle of a rural horse fair has sold for £182,500 at Bonhams.
It was purchased direct from the artist pre-1916 for the sum of £35 and has been passed down within the family for a century.
At the time this picture was painted, Munnings was a member of the Lamorna Group, a bohemian artist’s colony which had sprung up near the coastal village of Lamorna in Cornwall. The sale featured several works by other members of the group including Stanhope Forbes and Samuel John Lamorna Birch.
But there is a darker side to Alfred Munnings’ story. It was in Cornwall that Munnings met his first wife, fellow artist and horsewoman, Florence Carter Wood. The couple were married in January 1912 but Florence attempted suicide on their honeymoon.
A tangled love triangle involving Munnings, Florence Carter Wood and Munnings’ friend, Gilbert Evans, was to end in tragedy. Florence succeeded in taking her own life in 1914 as the looming shadow of the Great War fell upon the country.