Munnings Painting Found in Old Shed Will Be Auctioned

An undated, untitled Alfred Munnings watercolor found in an old shed. Photo: courtesy Bonhams.
An undated, untitled Alfred Munnings watercolor found in an old shed. Photo: courtesy Bonhams.

An old shed isn’t exactly where you’d expect an artwork  by a famous painter to turn up, but that’s exactly where a lost piece by British artist Alfred Munnings being auctioned off by Bonhams next month was discovered. The untitled, undated watercolor painting depicts a bucolic scene, with a pair of cows grazing in front of hay wagons.

The painting is expected to be among the highlights at the auction house’s East Anglian Picture Sale in Knightsbridge, London on Tuesday, November 18, carrying an estimate of £8,000–12,000 ($13,000–19,000). A man brought the piece to a valuation day at Bonhams Reepham, along with a car load of other prints and paintings that he had been storing in his shed. Curious to know if any of the works were worth anything, little did the owner know that the charming landscape was by the hand of the famous East Anglian artist.

“Most of the pictures were prints of little value so I was astonished when the Munnings emerged,” said Bonhams picture specialist Daniel Wright in a statement. “It was just about the last picture to be brought out of the car and it came as a great surprise. Fortunately it must have been a dry shed, and the picture is in good condition.”

The sale will feature no less than four works by Munnings, though the watercolor undoubtedly boasts the most interesting provenance. The others include a pen and ink self portrait of the artist at work at his easel, estimated at £3,000–5,000 ($4,800–8,000), and ‘Hamlet’—A chestnut horse before horse chestnuts, an oil painting of a Hackney horse with a pre-sale estimate of £20,000–30,000 ($32,000–48,000).

The Munnings landscape is not the only major fall auction lot to come from an unexpected source. While the British may have found a Munnings in an old shed, they have been one-upped by the French, who discovered a pair of long-lost John Duncan Fergusson masterpieces in an attic in Giverny (see Long Lost Masterpiece Discovered in French Attic Comes to Auction).


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