Lord Andrew's passion for Munnings

By Jonathan BarnesHIT composer Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber has revealed he is a huge fan of East Anglian artist Sir Alfred Munnings.David Mason, the musical maestro's art dealer, said Lord Andrew was delighted with the latest acquisition to his multi-million-pound art collection - Munnings' masterpiece The Ford.

By Jonathan Barnes

HIT composer Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber has revealed he is a huge fan of East Anglian artist Sir Alfred Munnings.

David Mason, the musical maestro's art dealer, said Lord Andrew was delighted with the latest acquisition to his multi-million-pound art collection - Munnings' masterpiece The Ford.

“I bought it for a lot of money only a couple of months ago in the United States, just south of Washington. I have no idea how it got out there,” said Mr Mason, an art dealer and former expert on Antiques Roadshow.

“Both Andrew and myself think Munnings was a quite magnificent artist, one of the best of the 19th and 20th Centuries. I have bought a number of his paintings for Andrew over the past 12 or so years.”

Munnings, the son of a miller, was born Mendham in 1878 and spent the last 40 years of his life at “the house of my dreams”, Castle House in Dedham.

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The Ford, which measures 30 inches by 40 inches, is one of more than 300 artworks belonging to Lord Andrew that have gone on public view for the first time.

His huge private collection, built up over four decades, went on display todayat the Royal Academy in London, for three months.

It includes works by Millais, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Stanley Spencer, Tissot and Alma-Tadema, and is predominantly Pre-Raphaelite.

Lord Andrew, 55, who is believed to be worth £400million, once said he only wrote musicals so he could buy Pre-Raphaelite paintings.

He started collecting when he was 15 and this is the only time the collection will go on public display.

The Royal Academy only has space for about 80% of the collection, which includes drawings, tapestries, rugs, books and artefacts.

“Andrew is quite depressed sitting around looking at the bare walls, but there have been various requests to see the pictures over the years and this is chance for everybody to feast,” said Mr Mason.

He added Lord Andrew owned 14 paintings by Munnings, seven of which are included in the exhibition.

They are The Ford (painted in 1912), The Grey Horse (unknown), Gypsy Caravan, The Caravan (unknown), The Shrimp and the White Pony (1909), Country Races - The Start (1915) and A Country Horse Fair (1902).

Mr Mason said he bought The Shrimp and the White Pony for £250,000 at Christie's 11 years ago and acquired eight paintings from a vicar's private collection.

Munnings lost the sight in his right eye at the age of 20 when he was hit by a briar as he lifted a dog over a hedge.

He went on to become president of the Royal Academy in 1944 and is regarded as one of the finest painters of horses Britain has produced.

Munnings died in Dedham in 1959 and his house is now a museum dedicated to his work.

The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection is on show until December 12. Ticket prices range from £2 to £9 and to book, contact 0870 126 0268 or log on to www.royalacademy.org.uk .

jonathan.barnes@eadt.co.uk

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