In this ongoing series for Fine Art Today, we take a longer look at the history and features of a soon-to-be-available artwork of note. This week: Sir Alfred James Munnings, “Mon Talisman, Chantilly.”
An outspoken critic of Modernism, painter Sir Alfred James Munnings established financial success through his wartime representations, but he is perhaps best known for his fantastic paintings of horses. On par with George Stubbs, Munnings spent years studying champion racehorses at Chantilly, a commune in France, and he found himself greatly in demand in places beyond England and France, including Canada and the United States.
Born in 1878 in Suffolk, England, Munnings studied as an apprentice at the Norwich School of Art, after which he became a full-time painter. Munnings completed his first painting of a racehorse, Poethyn, in 1919. In less than 10 years, his portraits of thoroughbreds were in high demand. On November 18, an outstanding portrait of the racehorse Mon Talisman heads to auction via The Sporting Art Auction in Lexington, Kentucky. The auctioneer reports, “Though this painting of Mon Talisman is what Munnings himself would have called a cut and dry horse portrait, there are several compositional aspects that make this painting an exceptional work. Consider the groom, for instance. He is in profile, the perspective that reveals the fewest characteristics while Mon Talisman gazes slightly out of the frame and towards the viewer. As this was a commissioned portrait, the patron, whether knowingly or not, would have appreciated that Mon Talisman, and not his groom, is looking out from the canvas out of the corner of his eye. Mon Talisman is seen in profile, displaying his athleticism and conformation. He is sculpted with highlights made by the early morning sunshine during exercise on the gallops at Chantilly. Munnings was the first artist to use pastel tones to create highlights and shadows on horses’ coats.”
Auction estimates are between $300,000 and $400,000.
To view the full catalogue, visit The Sporting Art Auction.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

Previous articleFrom Paris to Savannah
Next articleWhen in Rome
Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here