Phase Two: 1720 - 1731
This period must have seen Monamy at his most productive, with a thriving business. He seems to have tried his hand at every conceivable style of marine. As well as producing oil paintings on canvas, wood, copper; decorative, illustrative, commemorative, commissioned; large, small, and purely commercial, his work appears in almost every other medium, including mezzotint prints, book illustration, pen and wash sketches, and etchings.
9 x 12½ Oil on Copper. Signed
F.Gordon Roe, plate 18
There are immense problems of attribution. Horace Walpole, who has an entry for Robert Woodcock in his Anecdotes almost twice as long as that for Monamy, has this to say: "Woodcock ... of a gentleman's family ... (devoted) himself to his art, which he practised solely on sea-pieces. ... In 1723 he began to practise in oil, and in two years copied above forty pictures of Vandevelde ... he openly professed the art ... and the Duke of Chandos gave him thirty guineas for one of his pieces. ... He died April 10, 1728, in the thirty-seventh year of his age, and was buried at Chelsea." How many of his forty copies today, one wonders, with or without signatures, are indiscriminately ascribed to Monamy?
Michael Robinson, while compiling his great work The Paintings of the Willem van de Veldes, was perplexed by the large number of sub-standard paintings he recorded as not being good enough for attribution to The Master. He therefore encouraged me to find out as much as I could about Monamy, whom he assumed to be the copyist, or "assistant". We exchanged notes over a three or four year period, and he gradually came round to recognising that the bulk of these copies were probably not by Monamy. There are many other possible candidates, however, besides Robert Woodcock. In writing of the van de Veldes, Horace Walpole has this to say: "The younger William left a son, a painter too of the same style, and who made good copies from his father's works, but was otherwise no considerable performer. He went to Holland, and died there."
The last mention of Cornelius van de Velde, the son, occurs in a Dutch source dating to about 1729, but it is not certain when he left for Holland, if ever. The sale of Monamy's possessions in 1750, a year after his death, included a "Collection of Prints and Drawings: amongst which are many of William Vandevelde, Sen & Jun." He must have acquired these drawings from a previous owner, and Cornelius is the most likely. Note, March 2017. It is now known that Cornelius died in 1714, as recorded by Remmelt Daalder, Van de Velde & Son, 2016.
The paintings below are ordered in chronological sequence, and the great variations in style pose several problems. Some explanation for this variety is demanded, and I hope at the end of the day to have supplied a reasonable working hypothesis. Click on highlighted caption for further discussion of the picture presented.
signed and dated 1720
This painting is recorded at repeated auctions. In Christie's catalogue for 7th July 1967, lot 33, its provenance was given as Cliveden, 3rd Viscount Astor. When I checked with Cliveden, no confirmation of this provenance could be given. In Christie's catalogue for 21st March 1975, lot 95, it had undergone cleaning, and was described as the property of John Irwin Esq. Its dimensions were given as 37½ x 45, and it was stated to be signed and dated 1720. Colour reproduction below. Some doubt has to be voiced about this painting.
An interesting picture has just surfaced: apparently datable to 1722
Below is a modern copy of it, oil on canvas, auctioned 9th December 2006
said to be signed and dated 1723
A "Royal Occasion", signed and dated 1724. 39 x 60. Christie's 24 May 1968, lot 42.
This is not the painting reproduced in Cockett, p.52
This is the painting reproduced in Cockett, p.52. A slight look of Leemans.
signed and dated 1725
said to be signed, and dated 1726
Unsigned. 7ft x 5ft. Delivered to Painter-Stainers' Hall 1726
A "Royal Occasion", tentatively associated with the accession of George II, 1727
signed and dated 1728: anachronistic, the left-hand ship flies a pre-1707 ensign
the right-hand ship looks decidedly 17th century
book published 1729
confidently datable to circa 1729-1731
The point of inserting these background paintings to the Hogarth/Monamy conversation piece is to emphasise that Moonlight and the Burning Ship were well-established Monamy motifs prior to 1729. The Joseph Sympson junior mezzotint is only evidence that Night & a Burning Ship was a Monamy subject prior to 1736, since Sympson died in that year. Kirkall's mezzotints after Monamy seem to be post-1730.
signed: datable to circa 1729-1731
signed and dated 1730
OTHER PICTURES PAINTED DURING PHASE TWO
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