From the age of fourteen to twenty Munnings was apprenticed to Page Brothers, a Norwich firm of lithographers and poster designers, studying at the Norwich School of Art in the evening. Whilst working there he came to the attention of John Shaw Tomkins, a director of the chocolate manufacturers Cayley and Son, who became one of his earliest patrons. Tomkins commissioned advertising posters and designs for chocolate boxes, as well as buying a number of his earliest exhibits at the Norwich Art Circle. As his apprenticeship came to an end in 1898 Munnings had his first paintings accepted for exhibition at the Royal Academy. This encouraged him to turn down the offer of a permanent position at Page Brothers to pursue his career as a painter.
However, he continued to supplement his income producing poster designs whilst establishing himself as a painter. Going to the Start is one of Munnings’s earliest depictions of a subject that became a favourite of the artist – the frenzied energy and movement of jockeys and horses jostling for position at the start of a race. The work is the original design for a poster advertising Hethersett races, an example of which was sold in these Rooms on 12 December 2009, lot 12 (£3,250).
We are grateful to Lorian Peralta-Ramos, the Curatorial staff at The Munnings Museum and Tristram Lewis for their assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.