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From Corot to Munnings: Summer exhibition at Trinity House Paintings, London opens
Dame Laura Knight, Gypsy Caravans, 1935.

LONDON.- Trinity House Paintings will be presenting the works of internationally renowned 19th-and 20th-century artists in their summer exhibition ‘From Corot to Munnings’, which runs from the 10th June to 21st June at 50 Maddox Street, London. It will include works by Sir Alfred Munnings and Dame Laura Knight, two members of the famed Cornish art collective The Lamorna Group, which will be the focus of this summer’s new film Summer in February (UK Release: 14th June, including actors Dominic Cooper and Dan Stevens). They will be joined by famed American portraitist John Singer Sargent and Parisian painter Jean-François Raffaëlli, amongst others.

Sir Alfred Munnings (1878-1959) and Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970) were both prominent figures in the art world, ending their lives as decorated and honoured members of the British artistic establishment. While Munnings became president of the Royal Academy and was made a Knight of the Victorian Order, Dame Laura Knight served on a panel of European judges for an international exhibition at the Carnegie Institute and was appointed as an official artist for the Nuremberg War trials for her technical abilities. However, they were also alternative figures in the art world, associated with The Newlyn School of artists, and both lived as part of an artist’s colony in Lamorna, a small fishing village in Cornwall.

Sir Alfred Munnings, as a figurative equestrian portraitist, moved away from the abstracting modernist trends of the era. This can be seen in character-filled works such as his Portrait of Harry La Montagne on a Grey (1920), which is included in the exhibition. While Munnings’ works draw on traditional, and particularly British, subject matter- hunting and horse racing - his warm portraits of friends such as La Montagne also show a unique, novel style. Like George Stubbs’ famous equestrian portraits, the horse and rider dominate the picture plane, but Munnings injects movement through his determined and colourful brushwork which adds verve and reflects upon his distinctive sitter. Munnings warmly recollected his strong impression of La Montagne at the races when ‘scanning many faces under grey or black top hats, I used to see one face among the rest which for a moment, entirely changed my train of thought’.

Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970) also bucked trends through depicting liminal sites, such as circuses and gypsy settlements, from the very beginning of her career. An example of this is her delightful work Gypsy Caravans (1935). She gained a unique insight into these communities and developed close relationships with many of the Romanies during the pre-war years, stating ‘I was accepted as one of them… It was one of the most inspiring times of my working life’. In this work Knight details a traditional gypsy settlement from a ground level, including the washing lines and carts. The glow of a fire and a sleeping dog suggest bucolic contentment, despite the grey clouds that loom over her pre-second World War rural idyll.

Almost 100 years after it was first exhibited at The Royal Academy in 1914, Trinity House Paintings will bring John Singer Sargent’s (1856-1925) beautiful landscape Cypresses and Pines back to London. ‘Cypresses and Pines’ was exhibited in 1914 to overwhelmingly positive reviews, lauded by The Daily Telegraph as ‘a study of all penetrating Italian sunlight and luminous shadow, superbly composed, and painted with a certainty, an accomplishment that could hardly be surpassed’. ‘Cypresses and Pines’ will appear in vol. 8 of the new Sargent catalogue raisonné Figures and Landscapes, 1908-1913, written by renowned Sargent specialist, the artist’s great nephew Richard Ormond. This will be published in 2014 by Yale University Press. This exhibition marks the first time this important signed painting (priced in excess of $10million) has come to the open market in over 70 years.

‘From Corot to Munnings’ opens on the 10th June at Trinity House Paintings’ London gallery, 50 Maddox Street, W1S 1AY.

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