Castle House in Dedham was for many years the home of Sir Alfred Munnings (1878-1959), president of the Royal Academy of Arts, and a British painter who stands shoulder to shoulder with John Constable.
Castle House been The Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum for some years now, and we’ve visited it a number of times. Munnings is primarily known as one of England’s finest painters of horses, and that is beyond doubt. The museum’s regular collection has many of his paintings of horses and riders to substantiate this, as well as a collection of his other work.
A few years ago the Museum had a special exhibition of his work when he was commissioned by the Canadian Government as a war artist in the final years of the First World War. We visited that exhibition and were amazed at the quality of those paintings.
And in 2022 the Munnings Art Museum held another special exhibition, highlighting Munnings’ early work as a graphic artist. At the age of 14 he started work in Norwich for lithographic printers Page Bros. & Co. where he quickly excelled at designing advertisements and posters and undertook work for successful local companies such as Colman’s Mustard and Caley’s Crackers. The exhibition was in addition to the usual several rooms of his paintings, which are simply wonderful to look at. There are really informative descriptions with many paintings, and in several cases you can see the preparatory studies of his next to the final works. The main staircase has some very large paints of this, especially the striking ‘The Ford’.
The downstairs exhibition rooms hosted ‘Alfred Munnings : the Art of the Poster’, bringing together many of his early graphic design works, which show his design and draughtmanship skills, as well as his creativity and sense of humour at such an early stage. Click on the image below to visit the Museum’s website.
The Museum has a separate studio showcasing more Munnings paintings and some of his sculptures, and a tea room which top quality food and drinks, so make sure to stop by there as well. And there’s a good selection of items in the shop in the foyer. We splashed out (joke) on a postcard of his painting of a horse fair at Lavenham. And do bear in mind, he did most of his painting having been blinded in one eye!