November 09, 2019 09:00 AM EST Asheville, North Carolina


Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S.

(British, 1878-1959)

The Windsor Grays Being Harnessed to the Royal Coach, circa 1930, signed lower left "A.J. Munnings", oil on panel, 23-1/8 x 31-1/8 in.; gilt wood frame 28-5/8 x 36-5/8 in.


The present work shows the front of the royal Gold State Coach and two of the required four pairs of Windsor Grey horses. Built in 1762, the 4-ton ceremonial gilt coach has been used for every coronation since George IV in 1821. The horses wear special harness of red Moroccan leather with gilt buckles and those on the near or left side are ridden by postilions. The coach itself is heavily gilded with four fishtailed tritons or sea gods at each corner representing Britain's Imperial power over the seas. The front footboard is in the shape of a scallop shell.

Munnings has indicated the coach's elaborate gilt footboard and one triton. By echoing the same golden hues to enliven the postilions' decorative braid on their livery, Munnings has linked these elements while drawing the eye from the left into the depths of the scene.

There is not a known finished painting of this subject despite several very small studies (one in ex-Paul Mellon collection), one finished image of the massive Gold Coach and a detailed portrait of a Royal Windsor Grey in Coronation Harness (illustrated in Wildenstein Exhibition, 1983, no 41). Plein air studies such as this are typical of Munnings' method in order to understand the nuances of his subject and to experiment with the play of light. It is possible that Munnings prepared this painting and other studies for the coronation of King George VI in December 1936 but the commission never materialized or is unknown.

Brunk Auctions would like to thank Lorian Peralta-Ramos for authenticating the painting and for writing the catalog entry.

Provenance:Anonymous Sale; Sotheby's London, April 12, 1967, lot 41, illustrated; Ex-Collection of Mrs. William D. Haggard, III; Collection of Hollister Houghton, Aiken, South Carolina


small checks in panel, two small abrasions bottom center; frame with abrasions

Estimate: $70,000 - $100,000

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