Paul Sandby Munn, AOWS (1773-1845) Paul Sandby Munn is best regarded as a watercolourist of atmospheric, even dramatic landscapes of England and Wales, though he revived his skills during European travels late in life. Paul Sandby Munn was born at Thornton Row, Greenwich, Kent on 8 February 1773, one of at least two sons of James Munn, carriage decorator and landscape painter. His earliest works reveal the influence of Paul Sandby, and he is believed to have been Sandby’s godson as well as pupil – hence his name. He may have sketched alongside such gifted contemporaries as Thomas Girtin and J M W Turner at Dr Thomas Monro’s informal academy in London. He certainly made some drawings with the Sketching Society or ‘The Brothers’, founded by Girtin in 1799. Following Girtin’s death in 1802, John Sell Cotman became the society’s guiding spirit and Munn its secretary.
Munn showed work at the Royal Academy of Arts from 1799 until 1805, when he and his pupil, Francis Stevens, were elected as two of the first associates of the Society of Painters in Water Colours.
Many of Munn’s best exhibits were developed from sketches made while touring with Cotman to Wales (1802) and Yorkshire (1803). In those years, Cotman was lodging at 107 New Bond Street with Munn and his brothers, William and James, who sold stationery, prints – and Paul’s watercolours – from the same address. In addition to his work as a watercolourist, Munn contributed images to one of the earliest set of lithographs and to John Britton’s Beauties of England and Wales (1801-18).
In 1811, or soon after, Munn settled in Hastings, where he became a teacher of drawing and music. Ceasing to exhibit after 1815, he had largely given up painting for music by the early 1830s. However, Continental travels to Switzerland (1835) and northern France (1836) seem to have rekindled his artistic interests.
Though married, Munn died childless at Margate, Kent on 11 February 1845 from the effects of diabetes.
His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the British Museum, The Courtauld Gallery and the V&A; and the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford) and The Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge).