Born in Mendham, Suffolk, England, Alfred Munnings is best known for his paintings of horses. At age 14, he began an apprenticeship with a lithography company in Norwich, where he would continue to work for the next six years. Munnings furthered his education at the Norwich School of Art and, by the age of 21, the artist had exhibited his work at the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and at the Royal Academy of Arts. Munnings created works in both oil and watercolor, capturing rural life across England. After an introduction to the racecourse in 1899, horses became the focus of Munnings’s paintings, including portraits of hunters, horse fairs, and racehorses with their jockeys.
Despite an injury to his eye, Munnings continued his career as a painter, exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy of Arts. During the First World War, the artist processed horses before they were sent to aid in the war efforts. He later worked as an official war artist in France and his paintings garnered him international acclaim. In 1944, he became a Knight Commander of the Victorian Order and president of the Royal Academy of Arts. However, his overt dislike for modern art led him to resign as president five years later. In addition to painting, Munnings also created sculptures and wrote a lengthy autobiography. Today, his works are found in the collections of the Munnings Art Museum, Pebble Hill Plantation Museum, and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery.