Crostwick Common: Woman with a Donkey and Geese was executed in 1904, when Munnings stayed at an inn called the Crostwick White Horse, near Norwich, and painted at Crostwick Common. In his memoir An Artist’s Life, published nearly fifty years after the picture was completed, Munnings recalled those charmed days:
'Then came the open Common. There were the donkeys, young and old, a coloured cow or two, a white horse peacefully standing on a knoll - the wind stirring its tail - and geese and ponies. What a Common! ... calm, grey autumn days followed in succession in that particular year; days with soft "barred clouds" stretching across the sky. I see the bramble patches, the dark clumps of gorse and purple torns and yellow bracken, the donkeys with their white muzzles, feeding, and the geese far away near the stream at the end. Here I was in my twenties, with everything around me to paint' (A.J. Munnings, An Artist's Life, London, 1950, pp. 204-5).
Rural scenes were a popular theme at the turn of the century reflecting the prominent 'Back to the Land' movement in which the countryside and its populace were embraced. Munnings was no exception to this phenomenon and his early Royal Academy pictures, such The Vagabonds, 1902 (sold Christie's, London, 9 July 2021, lot 13 for £1,942,500), reflect on themes of rural life.
We are grateful to Lorian Peralta-Ramos, Tristram Lewis and the Curatorial staff at The Munnings Museum for their assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.