Sir Alfred James Munnings

Sir Alfred James Munnings
Richard III
20th century
Brush and black ink with opaque white on paper.
6 5/8 x 11 7/16 inches (169 x 290 mm)
The Joseph F. McCrindle Collection.
© Estate of Sir Alfred Munnings, Dedham, UK. All rights reserved, DACS / ARS 2020


Inscribed at lower right in pen and black ink, "A.J. Munnings 99"; inscribed on verso, in pen and brown ink, "Soft! I did but dream.- / O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me! / The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight / Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh. / Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I. / Richard III Act V Scene III".

Brian Sewell, London (1931-2015); from whom acquired by Joseph F. McCrindle, New York, November 1978 (McCrindle collection no. A0713).

In the present sheet, Sir Alfred Munnings, a prominent painter of equine subjects and a self-proclaimed adversary of Modernism, depicted Act V, Scene III from Shakespeare's Richard III. An inscription on the drawing's verso indicates the figure depicted is King Richard III who has just woken from a dream in advance of his battle against Richmond at Bosworth Field. In the dream, Richard was visited by the ghosts of Prince Edward, Henry VI, Clarence, Rivers, Grey, Vaughan, the Princes, Hastings, Lady Anne, and Buckingham who each threaten retribution. Munnings shows Richard waking and panicked, fearful that his army will flee.
As president of the Royal Academy from 1944-49, Munnings recalled in his autobiography that he was invited to Stratford-on-Avon to give the birthday festival toast to, as he recorded, "the Memory of the Immortal Bard," Shakespeare. Munnings insisted on his sustained adoration of Shakespeare's writing.

Artist page: