More Historic Caravans in Art

Copyright The Munnings Collection at The Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum / Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Copyright The Munnings Collection at The Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum.

Here are a couple final Alfred Munnings images of Romani caravans in an English countryside.  As a keen observer, he definitely caught the important details of each type of caravan and the essentials of camp life.  The watercolor above is somewhat unusual for Munnings as it shows no animals, people, or campfire.

Alfred Munnings.

Above is a rarely shown rounded square-top among other carts and caravans with livestock milling about.  The variety detailed in these historic images should be helpful for those desiring to design and build a similar living accommodation.  The previous post gave a glimpse of Laura Knight’s work on the subject and her subjects are remarkably detailed and informative.

Gypsy Camp, ca 1938, Dame Laura Knight.
Gypsy Camp, ca 1938, Dame Laura Knight.

This is one of my favorite scenes of a camp in the countryside; two beautiful ledge wagons and a marquis tent in a field.  I could picture this in a high parkland of the Rocky Mountains.  Many people don’t know that the outlier tent, awnings, and tarps are almost ubiquitous with the old caravans.  This allows for a very flexible and expandable living arrangement or a sheltered kitchen area.

Young Gypsies 1937, Dame Laura Knight.
Young Gypsies 1937, Dame Laura Knight.

If you look closely at the sketch above, you can see that this is the same encampment from another angle, focusing on the kids at play.  It looks like a fine way to grow up.

Gypsy Wagon and Tent, Dame Laura Knight, 1962.

And finally, another favorite of mine.  I suspect it’s the same little yellow wagon next to the sketchiest bender tent ever.  Probably a makeshift shelter for work or cooking.  A wagon wheel in the foreground seems to await repair while the kids look on.  Note the size of these caravans relative to today’s “needs” and remember that whole families lived and were raised this way.

If you missed the previous post about historic caravans in art go HERE or check out a whole page of images I have curated HERE.

2 thoughts on “More Historic Caravans in Art

  1. Lovely pictures. Is there any tradition of Romani travellers in the states? Did any make the voyage and continue the lifestyle? Travellers of all kinds get a lot grief here in the UK. Prejudice against gypsies is the most socially acceptable form of racism and is still widely held.

    I love your blog, lots of inspiring posts. I am curently milling timber to build a wagon. Hopefully finish it by the time I need to leave this site!

    Sent from a bender in an English woodland,

    1. The answer is “somewhat”. There has been a Romani presence in the U.S. for a long time but not so much with the same visibility as in Europe. I have only known a few very well and they didn’t seem to even know a lot about the early history here although some kept ties with family around the world. Growing up we knew them as car salesmen, construction people, etc. and I think some of the traditional tradesmen, such as the knife sharpeners, were. Being a real melting pot, I think there is just a lot of ignoring that sort of identity here unless you look very different or make a point of acting different (like traditional clothing). My father was a policeman so I knew a lot about the one large Romani criminal family in the neighborhood and I’m sure they were the cause of so much suspicion for the the law abiding families. Travellers get grief everywhere as they aren’t quite like the status quo.

      Good luck on the wagon! Take pictures if you can. I like England a lot and enjoyed it there. It has been many years but I lived in the Reading and Oxford area for a little while. I really enjoyed rural England, Scotland, and Wales.

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