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Revered Norfolk artist’s pictures coming home after 100 years

Alfred Munnings (1878-1959). Picture: Norwich Museum

Alfred Munnings (1878-1959). Picture: Norwich Museum

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For 100 years they have been on the other side of the Atlantic.

Painted Study for Cavalry Charge Led by Lieutenant G.M.Flowerdew, VC, 1918, by Sir Alfred Munnings. Picture:  Canadian War MuseumPainted Study for Cavalry Charge Led by Lieutenant G.M.Flowerdew, VC, 1918, by Sir Alfred Munnings. Picture: Canadian War Museum

But next month, 41 artworks painted in the First World War trenches by one of Norfolk’s most revered artists will be coming back to East Anglia.

Sir Alfred Munnings captured aspects of the First World War on canvas after being stationed in eastern France with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1918.

Now, the 41 paintings are returning to the UK from the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, for an exhibition at his former home, Castle House in Dedham, Essex.

Behind the Lines: Alfred Munnings, War Artist will be held from March 23 March to November 3,

Colonel Patterson, Fort Garry's, Canadian Cavalry Brigade, March 1918, by Sir Alfred Munnings. Picture: Ken AdlardColonel Patterson, Fort Garry's, Canadian Cavalry Brigade, March 1918, by Sir Alfred Munnings. Picture: Ken Adlard

For the first time the sketchbooks that Sir Alfred used while in the trenches will be on show.

These will be displayed side-by-side with the canvases that the books inspired once he was back on Allied soil.

More than 150 other works by Munnings, from his boyhood sketches through his early commercial work, to his iconic horse paintings, will also be on display. Jenny Hand, director of The Munnings Art Museum, said: “Even for established fans of Sir Alfred’s work, this touring exhibition represents an opportunity to see 41 paintings not shown outside of Canada since 1919, and enjoy new insights into his handling of the subject of war.

“I also think the exhibition will resonate with people whose relatives served in the forces in eastern France and those with connections to Canada.”

Charge of Flowerdew's Squadron, 1918, by Sir Alfred Munnings. Picture: Canadian War MuseumCharge of Flowerdew's Squadron, 1918, by Sir Alfred Munnings. Picture: Canadian War Museum

At the outbreak of war Munnings had tried to enlist in the army in 1914, but was turned down for only having sight in one eye.

Instead, he found himself at the Remounts, Calcot Park, Reading, checking horses prior to their embarkation to France. It was while there that the art critic Paul Konody recommended Munnings to the Canadian War Memorials Fund as an official war artist.

In January 1918 Munnings found himself with the Canadian Cavalry Brigade and later, the Canadian Forestry Corps, an army comprised largely of citizen soldiers.

Most of the 22,000 soldiers serving in the Canadian Forestry Corps had worked as lumberjacks before the war.

CWM General Seely, 1918, by Sir Alfred Munnings. Picture: Canadian War MuseumCWM General Seely, 1918, by Sir Alfred Munnings. Picture: Canadian War Museum

For more information go to www.munningsmuseum.org.uk

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