BATTLES & SHIP ACTIONS

Monamy was made free in 1704 and he died in 1749.
The battle pieces he painted during these 45 years can be sectioned as follows:


A. Historical actions pre-dating his freedom in 1704
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These might have been painted at any time during his career. Since some of the actions took place before he was born, and others during his apprentice years, they consist almost entirely of re-workings of previous paintings by several other artists, many but not all, deriving from originals by the van de Veldes. Some of these scenes had become familiar images, often repeated over the years since the actual events took place. Except for the actions contemporary with his lifetime, they are perhaps the least interesting from an artistic point of view, and I suspect the majority of them were produced by Monamy during the period after the death of the Younger van de Velde in 1707 until about 1720, since purchasers of them would gradually have declined during the 1720s and 1730s. A number are fairly routine, but on some of them, as for example the scene below, which (if it genuinely is by Monamy) may be a fairly late production, he seems to have devoted more care.


The Battle of Cap de la Hague, 1692

B. Contemporary actions from 1704 to 1739
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The major naval event, of the greatest significance during these years, was the Battle of Cape Passaro in 1718, and the period following this date was when Monamy "came into reputation". At Cape Passaro Sir George Byng completely overwhelmed the Spanish navy. There are two or three works relating to this action by Monamy, one of which is in Buckingham Palace.


battle of cape passaro, 1718

His four paintings of the earlier naval triumphs of Byng were produced substantially later, in 1725. A fifth painting for Byng, of Gibraltar, may have been occasioned by incidents in connection with the rock in about 1726. Generally, however, as noted elsewhere, there were few events during this period for a war artist to illustrate, and most of Monamy's output would have been concerned with non-belligerent "prospects", although including storms, and works evincing an increasing concern with natural phenomena, especially the effects of sunlight and weather conditions at sea..


unidentified engagement

C. Contemporary actions from the outbreak of war in 1739 to 1749
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These events coincide with the period of Monamy's financial and physical decline. Although he remained productive until the end of his life, "connoisseurship" and the disfavour of wealthy patrons, whose tastes were growing refined by their travels to Italy and France on the Grand Tour, were catching up with him. As Vertue notes, at his death he left "many paintings begun and unfinished. his works being done for dealers at moderate prices --- kept him but in indifferent circumstances to his end". Nevertheless the numerous versions of the engagements in the wars following the capture of Porto Bello, the appearance of at least 20 prints after his oeuvre, and the delivery of the "large and beautiful sea piece of the English Fleet in the Downs" to the Foundling Hospital in 1748, indicates he continued hard at work.


The Capture of Porto Bello 1739

battles pre 1704       battles 1704-1739
battles post 1739
another pre-1704 checklist
painting chronology & authenticity
artistic range
monamy website index
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© Charles Harrison Wallace 2001, 2003, 2013
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