A French print of the Water Cascade at Vauxhall Gardens, off the plan below, to the right.

Some effort to visualize how the paintings at Vauxhall were displayed might amuse. The Ambulator comments that on entry to the Gardens there are "a number of pavilions, ornamented with paintings designed by Hayman and Hogarth; and each pavilion has a table that will hold six or eight persons". The manner of ornamentation is assumed to be generally as below. The paintings glimpsed behind the diners are distinctly obscure. The space adjacent to the Rotunda labelled the Picture Room, shown above, was presumably used for regular public shows by the time this plan was produced in 1790. These did not start until 1761, so neither Monamy nor Brooking were able to benefit. Hence the donations to their widows from the proceeds of the first exhibition.

PUBLIC DISPLAY

The theme of the Gardens, engendered by Hogarth no doubt, was patently English Life, Leisure, Letters, Painting and Music for All: with Handel qualifying as an honorary Englishman. A German once told me, fifty years ago, that the English were a nation of compromisers; more or less the same thing as being a nation of shopkeepers, I suppose. Those unable or unwilling to compromise went or were sent to sea.

"The first [painting] is on the left hand, under a Gothic piazza and colonnade, formed by a range of pillars, which stretch all along the front of the great room. It represents two Mahometans gazing in astonishment at the beauties of the place."

1.   Two Mahometans gazing in astonishment at the beauties of the place.
2.   A shepherd playing on his pipe, and decoying a shepherdess into a wood.
3.   New River Head, at Islington
4.   Quadrille, and the tea-equipage
5.   Music and singing
6.   Building houses with cards
7.   A scene in the Mock Doctor
8.   An Archer
9.   Dances round the Maypole
10. Thread my needle
11. Flying the kite
12. Pamela revealing to Mr.B.'s house-keeper her wishes to return home
13. A scene in the Devil to Pay
14. Shuttlecock
15. Hunting the whistle
16. Pamela flying from Lady Davers
17. A scene in the Merry Wives at Windsor
18. A sea engagement between the Spaniards and Moors: --- ie English & Algerines



Vulcan, Mars and Venus: Risquet being risqué

Next, we arrive at a central temple, which is "a place for the reception of company, and is painted, in the Chinese taste, by Risquet, with the story of Vulcan catching Mars and Venus in a net." There are paintings to either side: "that on the right represents the entrance into Vauxhall; and that on the left, Friendship on the grass drinking."


"The paintings in the other pavilions of this sweep are landscapes."

"Having traversed this semi-circle, we come to a sweep of pavilions that lead into the great walk: the last of these is a painting of Black-eyed Susan returning to shore."

The next set of paintings, at the east end of the Grove, are "better than those heretofore seen":

1.   Difficult to please
2.   Sliding on the ice
3.   Bagpipes and hautboys
4.   A bonfire at Charing Cross,
      the Salisbury stage overturned, &c
   5.   Blindman's buff
6.   Leap frog
7.   The Wapping landlady,
      and the tars just come ashore
8.   Skittles.


7. The Wapping landlady, and the tars just come ashore

Since there appear to be eight boxes at the east end of the Grove, there is good reason for being quite precise about where the Wapping Landlady, listed at No 7, was to be found.


Left: Mayday, or the Milkmaid's Garland. Right: coloured version of the Wapping landlady.
The "Milkmaid's Garland" does not seem exactly to match the Ambulator's "9. Dances round the Maypole".
See Brian Allen, Francis Hayman, 1987, pp 109, 110, 133.
"Hayman's work was invariably dismissed by Horace Walpole". p.2

On another side of the Grove's quadrangle are:

1.   The taking of Porto Bello
2.   Mademoiselle Catharine, the dwarf
3.   Ladies angling
4.   Bird-nesting
5.   The play at bobcherry

6.   Falstaff's cowardice detected
7.   The bad family
8.   The good family
9.   The taking of a Spanish register-ship, in 1742: ---- ie the San Joseph in 1739.

Comparing these four illustrations, it is striking how greatly they differ from each other in conception. This variety is strongly characteristic of Monamy's painting output. It makes his oeuvre difficult to assess, and demonstrates why virtually all the generalised comments on his output are so inadequate and unsatisfactory. It can also be argued that it was mistaken of him to be so constantly experimental. The Capture of Porto Bello, for instance, looks as though it was deliberately conceived as a scenic backdrop, almost as if meant for a foreground theatrical enactment of Vernon's triumph. Its dimensions are unknown.

"There are some curious men who form an idea of a master, by the sight of three or four of his pictures; and who, after this, believe they have a sufficient authority to decide what his manner is; without considering what care the Painter took about them, and what age he was of when he drew them. ..... There is none also that had not his beginning, his progress, and his end; that is to say, three manners." Roger de Piles, The Art of Painting, Chap XXVIII, part II. This work was translated from the French and first published in England in 1706.


Published by Sayer, dated 1759, Canaletti pinxt.
The orchestra was "Gothicized" in 1757: this print follows the earlier painting by Canaletto. Compare here and here.

From Dodsley's London and its Environs, 1761


The Inside of the Elegant Music Room in Vauxhall Gardens
Apparently a French (or German?) copy of a print by H.Roberts after S.Wale

vauxhall gardens three
vauxhall gardens four
more vauxhall fun & games
private display
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© Charles Harrison Wallace 2004
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