BATTLES & SHIP ACTIONS

A. Engagements before 1704


Print after Vauxhall Gardens painting: see here

Many of these scenes had become familiar images, often repeated since the incidents took place. They consist mostly of re-workings of previous paintings by other artists, mainly but not entirely deriving from originals by the van de Veldes, who, under royal patronage from Charles II and James II, had witnessed some of these events. In many ways they are the least interesting of Monamy's works, most of them perhaps produced during the years from 1704 to about 1720; although the Vauxhall painting of the English and the Algerines was much later, probably c 1735. Inevitably, Monamy's paintings of actions during this period can only be derivative, or else wholly imaginary, and it is ludicrous to stress dependence on earlier painters when historical battles are reproduced. There would, naturally, be a strong demand for these past naval triumphs.

A second page, here, displays all hitherto discovered battle paintings attributed to Monamy, illustrating incidents before 1704.


For comment on this painting, see here

1666-1704

The intention is that this page should concentrate on paintings by Monamy, as far as can be ascertained, but because the period relates to the years before he was made free of his apprenticeship, and includes engagements which took place well before he was born, paintings by other artists are included in order to fill in some background.

1666
1-4/6. The Four Days fight with the Dutch, beginning off the N.Foreland.
25/7. The St James's Day Fight.
8/8. "Sir Robert Holmes his bonfire". The burning of Schelling, or Westerschelling.


Holmes's Bonfire. From The Rupert & Monck Letter Book, by Powell & Timings, 1969.

If there is any truth in Horace Walpole's report that the Elder van de Velde "conducted the English fleet, as is said, to burn Shelling", it suggests that the painter had secret high-level contacts with England well before his emigration to London in 1672, under the aegis of Charles II. What could have been the source of this story? Can it really just be a crude libel?

1667
May. Captain Berry engaged a Franco-Dutch fleet off Nevis.
11-14 June. The Dutch in the Medway. Three ships burnt; the Royal Charles taken to Holland.
Sir John Harman burnt a French squadron at Martinique.

  

The Royal Charles

The captured ship is shown in the Maas estuary, Holland.

Jeronymus van Diest
1631-1673.

1669
9/12. John Kempthorne, in the Mary Rose, 48 guns, defeats 7 Algerine pirates, off Cadiz. There is a green mezzotint, said to be of this action, "after W Van de Velde", engraved by E.Kirkall (circa 1722-25). Plan of action by Hollar, below.


Etching by Bohemian artist Wenzel Hollar, who was on board the Mary Rose. Published 1670.
This was two years before the arrival of the van de Veldes in London.
Their painting of this action is based on Hollar's eye-witness observations.

1672
12 & 18/3. Holmes's action with the Dutch Smyrna fleet.
28/5. The Battle of Solebay. Indecisive naval battle against the Dutch. The Royal James burnt.


22½ x 33½, Signed W.V.Velde J. See M.S.Robinson, 1990, Vol 1, pp.165-183.


34½ x 45½. Signed Monamy. Sotheby 26/11/1975 [118]. The Burning of the Royal James


Kirkall mezzotint, c.1725.

This indecisive battle proved a popular subject with marine painters. There are at least five paintings of it attributed to Monamy, and many more attributed to van de Velde. The burning of Lord Sandwich's flagship, the Royal James, must have found an unusual number of eager owners. Although the van de Veldes were liked by King James II, the king himself was widely hated. Some of Monamy's versions derive from van de Velde, others appear to be original compositions. They would have been painted up to 50 years after the actual battle.

The Kirkall mezzotint, circa 1725, inscribed Wm Vanderveld Jnr pinx, is shown in reverse above left, for comparison with the Monamy painting. Various possibilities as to the actual relationship between these two images suggest themselves, one being that Kirkall was not engraving after van de Velde, but after Monamy. However, there are certainly also intermediate versions, some probably by Cornelius van de Velde. Monamy's version may possibly be after one of these, but most probably after the Kirkall mezzotint, and painted circa 1725.


35 x 51. Signed Monamy. The Battle of Solebay. NMM
The prominence given to the Dutch ship in this painting by an English artist is noteworthy


The Battle of Solebay; 37 x 39; Christie's 11/11/83, lot 4; signed
see here for more examples of this version

1673
28/5. The first Battle of Schooneveld.
4/6. The second Battle of Schooneveld.
11/8. The second Battle of the Texel. Last battle of the Anglo-Dutch wars.


Battle of the Texel, 11 Aug 1673. W. van de Velde, Jnr. Painted 1687.
A note by C.R.Boxer, 1974, remarks: The Royal Prince was .... "dismasted,
and her successful defence is one of the epics of naval warfare."


Battle of the Texel, 11 Aug 1673. P.Monamy; 24 x 45½

1681
Captain Morgan Kempthorne, the Kingfisher, died 1681 in battle against Algerine pirates. A painting by the Elder van de Velde of this action is in Buckingham Palace. See here.

1685 - 1688
Reign of James II. Monmouth's rebellion, followed by his beheading. Seven Lords, the "Immortal Seven", invite William of Orange to England. James II flees. See Seeds of Liberty, John Miller, Chap 2, Revolution.


Discreet departure from London of King James II, 10th Dec 1688. Dutch print from 1690.
A card portraying James II on sale at the NMM remarks that he had been
"a courageous and efficient Lord High Admiral". His valour faltered.

1689
William III accedes to English throne.
1/5. The Battle of Bantry Bay.
28/7. The Relief of Londonderry (besieged from 1/4 - 1/8).

1690
11/7. William III defeats James II at the Boyne.
30/6. The first Lord Torrington engages with De Tourville off Beachy Head.

1692
19/5. The Battle of Barfleur. Russell defeated De Tourville. Action engraved (probably contemporary) by M. van der Gucht, after Isaac Sailmaker.
22-24/5. Destruction of De Tourville's fleet at La Hogue. Virtually same action.


The Battle of Barfleur, 19-22 May 1692. 14 x 42. Traces of signature. Glasgow.


The Battle of Cap de la Hague (La Hogue), 22-24 May 1692. NMM. The Burning of the Soleil Royal
This appears to be a fairly early work by Monamy. Signed. 19 x 26.


Another version, attributed to Monamy at auction, unsigned. 36 x 47.
Included by Robinson, catalogue number 634. 31 x 47½. Said to be signed with monogram.
Below is Robinson's catalogue entry, Vol 1, page 215.

There appears to be confusion regarding measurements and signature (monogram ?) in respect of this painting. The matter needs looking into. The actual measurements seem to be 27 x 43, with no signature or monogram.


The Battle of Cap de la Hague (La Hogue), 22-24 May 1692. Dimensions and location unknown.
If this really is by Monamy, it is a much more mature work than the preceding painting
Jersey stamp, 1974. It has a much later than Monamy look about it.

1693
17/7. Disaster of the Smyrna fleet. The French captured 54 English, Dutch, Swedish and Danish merchant ships, sailing off Lagos Bay, under protection of Rooke.

1694
12/7. Bombardment and destruction of Dieppe by Admiral Lord Berkeley.

1702
19/3. Death of William III. Succeeded by Queen Anne.
20-24/8. Benbow's action with Du Casse.
10/10. George Byng off Brest with Admiral Shovell. Combined operations at Vigo Bay. Tried to join Rooke at attack on Vigo Bay 12/10, but missed the action.

1703
26-28/7. Dilkes destroyed French shipping at Granville.
16/11. Great Storm in the English Channel. 10,000 seamen lost; over 100 vessels wrecked or lost; half the English fleet was blown to Norway. Eddystone Lighthouse swept away.

1704
4/8. (4/7?) George Byng leads the advance squadron at the capture of Gibraltar.
13/8. Rooke's action with De Toulouse off Velez Malaga. Rooke with a fleet of 53 ships met the French with 50 ships and 24 galleys. After an all-day battle the French withdrew under cover of night. George Byng was knighted by Queen Anne, 22/10, for his part in the battle. Action engraved (probably contemporary) after Isaac Sailmaker.


click on image for oil painting

1704 was the year Monamy was made free of his apprenticeship. There is no doubt in my mind that he would have drawn as much inspiration from contemplating this print by Sailmaker as from the works of the van de Veldes. At this stage in his life, aged 23, he may not even have seen any of their paintings, nor were they engraved. Sailmaker he may well have known personally.


40 x 50. Chapman Sale, NY, 26/3/1924. The Battle of Malaga. Sold as Monamy.

battles 1704-1739       battles post 1739
battles: introductory
another pre 1704 checklist
monamy website index
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