Behind the Lines: War Paintings of Alfred Munnings

252 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

June, 2019

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with


Reasons for trip

Everyone who has driven through north-eastern France will have seen the huge memorial to Canadian soldiers on Vimy Ridge. The battle there cost 3500 Canadian lives. A year later Alfred Munnings was appointed as a war artist to the Canadian High Commission, but it was not Vimy Ridge that he commemorated. He was, as is now said, embedded with a mounted regiment and recorded them on the march, at rest and, perhaps surprisingly, at work logging.

Painting horses had made the reputation of Munnings, so a mounted regiment placement was appropriate. The placement was in north-eastern France and the Jura. There were no trees left in the battle zone, but in the Jura region there were huge forests and timber was a vital resource. Whether or not these Canadians were lumberjacks they supplied so much timber that the UK was able to reduce its imports by 80%, from over 10 million tons to two. The war effort needed timber in the trenches and in industry, including coal mines.

Munnings painted both the cavalry animals and the heavy horses used in moving the timber. The soldiers also put their shoulders to the work, manually moving wagons. In some cases Munnings drew as they worked or travelled. At other times he had scenes staged after a day’s march or during a break. In one case an imagined cavalry charge is portrayed. This does, however, relate to an actual event, in which a Norfolk emigrant to Canada, Lieutenant Flowerdew, led a charge in which he received fatal wounds. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, one of several gained by the Canadians.

The exhibition comprises over hundred paintings and drawings. They belong to the High Commission of Canada, and are normally kept in Ottawa. The display at the Munnings Museum in Dedham until early November is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will be worth anyone’s time and money. Munnings may be less of a figure than in his lifetime but this is an invaluable document of a contribution to the war effort that deserved to be made and thoroughly deserves to be seen.

It may be difficult some some people to manage the stairs in what was the Munnings family home to see other examples of his work but a tour of the ground floor is easy enough and worthwhile. In the generous grounds are a tea room, his studio with other exhibits and toilet facilities. The car park is generous. Normal adult admission is £8 and the ‘Behind the Lines’ exhibition is included in that price.


Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.