UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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George Frederick Munn, 1852-1907

Nationality: American
Date of Birth: 1852
Place of Birth: Utica, NY
Date of Death: 1907.02.10
Place of Death: New York, NY

Identity:

George Frederick Munn was a landscape and flower painter and sculptor.

Life:

Munn initially studied under the sculptor Charles Calverly, and then at the National Academy in New York. In London he attended the National Art Training School in South Kensington, where he became the first American to receive a gold medal for his model in clay of the Farnese Hercules. He also attended the Royal Academy Schools where he won a silver medal for life drawing. In 1876 he worked in the studio of George Frederic Watts.

Munn's paintings, particularly his flower pieces, were admired for their minute detail, e.g. Wallflowers (1877). In July 1886 an anonymous letter to the Editor of the Court and Society Review praised the work of Munn which strived 'to render natural beauty by methods as legitimate and personal as those of Mr. Whistler' (#11358).

He spent some time painting and sketching in Brittany (see A Grey Day, Brittany, 1878).

Munn was an active exhibitor between 1875 and 1886, showing works such as The Story of the Church (1884) and On the Kennet (1886) in venues in London such as the Royal Academy, Royal Institute of Oil Painters, Grosvenor Gallery and Society of British Artists, as well as at the Royal Society of Artists in Birmingham, Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and Manchester City Art Gallery.

Munn was elected a member of the Society of British Artists in 1884, the year in which JW also joined, and he appears to have been something of an ally of JW's, being called upon by the latter in 1885 to support the election of Mortimer Menpes and William Stott (#09312) and to support JW in 1888 against the threat of enforced resignation (#08073). He presumably supported JW's appointment of President in July 1886. In October of this year the society's financial difficulties were in part met by a lottery of JW's etchings to which Munn subscribed (#05276). His name is also included in a list by JW dating from 1886-6 which may well have been a list of fellow artists invited to a private view of JW's 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes' being held at Dowdeswell's Gallery in London in May 1884 (#08683).

Bibliography:

Wood, Christopher, Dictionary of Victorian Painters, Woodbridge, 1971; Johnson, J., and A. Gruetzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980.