The mystery surrounding a “lost” painting created by Sir Alfred Munnings has been solved.
Munnings was just finding fame as a portraitist and painter of British rural life when the First World War broke out in 1914. Blind in his right eye, he was denied a role in the Army on medical grounds. However, in 1918, he seized the opportunity to go to France as an official war artist working for the Canadian War Memorials Fund.
Munnings provided an insight into the men of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade and the Canadian Forestry Corps. In early 1918, he was embedded with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, an army composed largely of citizen soldiers fighting on the Western Front. Munnings spent two months with the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, commanded by maverick MP, JEB ‘Galloper Jack’ Seely, until the German offensive began in March 1918.
Nearly a century later in the fall of 2018, the National Army Museum in London recreated the 1919 Royal Academy exhibition, which featured 44 of Munnings’ paintings, but one of the 44 paintings is missing and is represented on the wall of the museum with an empty frame.
News of the “lost” painting hit social media and went viral in the art world. The painting was found in the collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Winnipeg, Man. Apparently, Brigadier General Paterson was from Winnipeg and, presumably, took the painting home with him.
The oil-on-canvas painting is simply entitled Peggy, 1918, and measures 51 cm by 61 cm. The Winnipeg Art Gallery website lists it as being a gift from Mrs. R.H. Tarr and Mr. John D. Paterson. The London exhibition includes paintings on loan from the Canadian War Museum, as well as selected works from the National Army Museum’s own collection. The London, England exhibition runs until March 3, 2019.