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THE FOUNDLING HOSPITAL


the foundlings, by hogarth

From William and John Linnell: Eighteenth Century London Furniture Makers, by Hayward & Kirkham, 1980: "As a carver in Long Acre, William Linnell was concerned to become more widely known and to build up the reputation of his workshop. In 1747 an exceptional opportunity for publicity occurred, which he was not, however, wholly successful in exploiting. This arose as a result of the building of the Foundling Hospital ....... Already in March, 1741, William Hogarth, a member of the governing body, had presented the hospital with a shield he had painted to put up over the door of the first temporary accommodation. As the new buildings rose, this charitable gesture was imitated and many benefactions were offered. Some of these gifts came from artists in Hogarth's circle and connected with his drawing school, the St Martin's Lane Academy. Thomas Gainsborough, Richard Wilson, Joseph Highmore, Peter Monamy and the Italian painter, Andrea Casali, presented pictures for the decoration of the court room, the committee room, other public rooms and the chapel."

A friend, or patron, of Linnell's, a Mr Reynardson, was elected a Governor of the Hospital in 1746. "A year later, on 16 December 1747, Reynardson informed the General Committee 'that Mr Linnell, a carver in Long Acre, proposed to present this Hospital with a "curious carved frame" for the picture painted by Mr Monamy'. It was at once 'desired that Mr Reynardson return the thanks of the committee' and at the same time it was resolved that the picture Peter Monamy had painted and given to the Hospital, which was a sea piece, should be hung in the committee room. Linnell may have known Monamy and have discussed with him the design of the frame." The Linnell family later befriended William Blake.

On December 30th the frame was shown to the members "and they were clearly non-plussed. The minutes record the resolution 'that the consideration of what regards Mr Monamy's picture and Mr Linnell's intended benefaction be postponed'. The 'curious' carving was evidently too flamboyant for a room in which sobriety and uniformity were the keynote." The "dilemma was resolved by ordering, at the same meeting. 'that Mr Linnell be directed to make a frame to Mr Monamy's picture agreeable to the pattern of those in the general court room and also to be desired that the frame he intended as a benefaction to this Hospital may be adapted to a picture for the altar piece of the chappel'."


70 x 106½ signed P.Monamy pinx
This very large painting has been proposed as the one missing from the Foundling Hospital.
The jury is still out on this matter. Inspection of the frame has produced no further clues.
Brooking's painting measures 69 x 121.


Admission of the Children to the Hospital by Ballot. N.Parr after S.Wale, published 9 May 1749.
The painting half-seen at right has been proposed as the missing Monamy. Jury required.
Whatever else it may be, this picture is quite obviously not "in the Downs".

In Treasures of the Foundling Hospital, p 84, Benedict Nicolson suggests: "Half of a very large and unidentified shipping picture hangs on the wall of a room in the Hospital in the engraving by Parr after S.Wale representing the admission of the foundlings, dated 1749. It is hard to imagine what it can be if not the lost Monamy, to whose style it conforms."

The only known Monamy it resembles to any degree is the Doggett's winner. No other such urban riverside Monamy is known. The buildings look as if they might be identifiable. It does not remotely fit the description "large and beautiful sea-piece of the English Fleet in the Downs"; but the author of that description may well have been looking at the Brooking. On the other hand the Brooking was painted to match the Monamy. Perhaps this was only in size.

Brooking's picture is shown below.


68¾ x 121, signed C.Brooking Pinx. Presented to the Foundling Hospital 1754.

Left: a strictly limited inventory of the treasures of the Foundling Hospital, as listed and described by Thomas Martyn in his The English Connoisseur, 1767. What is curious is not the inclusion of three paintings by Hogarth, or the two by Highmore, or the one by Hayman, but the mention of Monamy's "large and beautiful sea-piece" coupled with the omission of Brooking's equally large sea-piece, which was painted to "match" it. There are, of course, numerous other omissions. However, there is something distinctly odd about the disappearance of Monamy's sea-piece, which is said to have occurred some time before 1909.

It is very tempting to suppose that Martyn, whose book was published 8 years after Brooking's death, was confusing the two paintings. Brooking's picture seems to me to match the description "large and beautiful sea-piece of the English Fleet in the Downs" very closely. How could it be better described?

Above, right, is a detail of a pen and wash view of South Foreland (click on image), repeatedly attributed to Monamy, though personally I think it would be far more credibly ascribed to Brooking. Below is a print view of the Downs, after Sailmaker (click on image), with the right-hand detail of Brooking's Foundling painting inset for comparison. Looks to me as though the detail shows South Foreland.

Foundling Hospital Marine Painting Timeline
1746

31 December. "That the following Gentlemen Artists had severally presented and agreed to present Performances in their different Professions for Ornamenting the Hospital viz Mr Francis Hayman, Mr James Wills, Mr Joseph Highmore, Mr Thomas Hudson, Mr Allan Ramsay, Mr George Lambert, Mr Samuel Scott, Mr Peter Monamy, Mr Richard Wilson, Mr Samuel Whale, Mr Edward Hateley, Mr Thomas Carter, Mr George Moser, Mr Robert Taylor and Mr John Pine." [Nicolson; p.20]

1747

16 December. Reynardson informed the General Committee "that Mr Linnell, a carver in Long Acre, proposed to present this Hospital with a 'curious carved frame' for the picture painted by Mr Monamy". It was at once "desired that Mr Reynardson return the thanks of the committee" and at the same time it was resolved that the picture Peter Monamy had painted and given to the Hospital, which was a sea piece, should be hung in the committee room. [Nicolson; p.83]
30 December. The minutes record the resolution "that the consideration of what regards Mr Monamy's picture and Mr Linnell's intended benefaction be postponed". Linnell is to be directed to make a frame for the Monamy "agreeable to the Pattern of those in the General Court Room". [Nicolson; p.83]

1748

11 May. "Mr Monamy, Mr Whale, and Mr Gainsborough; having presented Pictures to this Hospital. /Resolved/ That the thanks of this Committee ....." [Nicolson; p.83]
18 October. Thanks of the Foundling Hospital Committee recorded to "Mr Monamy, Mr Whale and Mr Gainsborough." [Nicolson; p.83]

1749

9 May. Engraving by N.Parr, after S.Wale. See above. And below.

1751

"and in the great room or eating room is a large ship peece by Monamy." See Vertue III p.157.

1754

6 February. Brooking presents his painting.

1767

Martyn lists (in the dining-room) a "large and beautiful sea-piece of the English Fleet in the Downs by Mr Monamy." He does not mention the Brooking. (The English Connoisseur.) It's beginning to look very much as if Martyn has misattributed the Brooking to Monamy, and that the Monamy was never the "Fleet in the Downs".

1807

15 July. Gen Committee: 'two sea views by Brooking' are recommended for cleaning and repairing. [Nicolson; p.83]

1847

Brownlow, p.128. Sadly, this mention is merely a verbatim repetition of Walpole's contorted distortion of Vertue's notes. It adds no clue at all to the subject or nature of Monamy's donation to the foundlings.
Brownlow, p.138. "In consequence of an interview between Mr [Taylor] White and Brooking, the latter was encouraged to paint the sea-piece in question in one of the rooms of the Institution, his garret not affording sufficient space. The picture was painted in eighteen days, and its merits are not supposed to be surpassed by any other painter."

1929

Marine Art exhibition, Burlington Fine Arts Club, catalogue, No 1, stated the Monamy disappeared "about twenty years ago".

1935

Nichols and Wray, in The History of the Foundling Hospital, p 359, mention a "Mr Robert Monamy", of no fixed address, as elected a Governor of the Hospital on Dec 31st, 1746.


Captain Coram, by Nabot
introduction
descent
article 1981
article 1983
sailmaker
brooking
authenticity
artistic range


website index


Captain Coram, by Hogarth


reconstruction of monamy's presumed donation: just about 69 x 121
see doggett's winner


The Hospital circa 1826 by T.H.Shepherd

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