"Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness.
A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing,
either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals."
George Orwell, first published in the TLS, 1972
The truth, as Roger de Piles memorably remarked, is that: "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." This comes from the English translation of the Art of Painting, 1706.
Monamy's Progress and End
"by constant practice he distinguisht himself and came into reputation"
Below, two overdoors by Monamy.
Sadly, the unpleasant owner of these two evocative paintings removed the unique frames.
Monamy's beginning: 1704-1727. Twenty-three years.
The truth is that Monamy distinguished himself by sheer hard work at grassroots level, over twenty years and more, and he had come into reputation by about the mid-1720s. During his early years he had little or nothing to do with the van de Velde family of painters.
By 1726 or 1727 Monamy attracted the notice of George Vertue, who penned an inaccurate and garbled account of his life, but correctly reported his elevation to the livery of the Painter-Stainers Company, and his donation of the very large painting which is still to be seen there. This followed his major commission and completion of four large paintings recording the battle triumphs of George Byng, Viscount Torrington, which can be uniformly dated to 1725. A fifth painting, of Gibraltar, can be dated to 1727 or 1728, recalling Torrington's part in its capture in 1704, and its ceding in perpetuity to Britain in 1713, as well as its defence in 1727, and celebration thereof by Fawkes.
Take a look at the pages addressing the chronology of Monamy's works.
Second & third stages
His progress: 1728-1740. Twelve years.
His end: 1741-1749. Eight years.
Second & third stages
Monamy's 50th year, 1731, was clearly a major turning-point in his career, which could be said to have peaked at about this point in time. Several political and social developments, unwelcome to Monamy, started to come into play in the years 1727-1733. Wikipedia: "During George I's reign, the powers of the monarchy diminished and Britain began a transition to the modern system of cabinet government led by a prime minister. Towards the end of his reign, actual political power was held by Sir Robert Walpole, now recognised as Britain's first de facto prime minister. George died of a stroke, 11 June 1727, on a trip to his native Hanover."
The years of Monamy's maturity, 1728-1741 can be divided into two halves: pre- and post-Excise Crisis, 1733. In 1733, and the years following, Walpole increasingly sought to extend his power, and the opposition to him increasingly solidified. Below is a tentative selection of paintings pre-crisis.
|   || |
To the above selection must obviously be added the Hamilton conversation piece, shown left, which cannot have been painted later than 1734.
The years 1728-1733 were the period when Monamy's bid to establish himself as London's pre-eminent patriotic marine painter became apparent. This was in part an effort to counter the unwelcome developments mainly instigated by Robert Walpole, including the Walpole family's promotion of Samuel Scott.
Monamy's portrait was painted, and issued in mezzotint, with the promotional slogan "Second only to Van de Velde", a clear reference to the mounting competition from Scott. It has little to do with the manner of the van de Veldes, as is apparent from the above paintings.
Monamy had by now been patronised by the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Duke of Norfolk, and Royalty.
The curious apparent patronage of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, England's premier Roman Catholic; and the equally curious painting extant in Arundel Castle, signed Monamy and dated 1730, shown above, seems to have had something to do with Norfolk's 1730 appointment as Grand Master of English Freemasonry. See timeline: 1729-30. In 1731 Norfolk presented the sword of Gustavus Adolphus, a major opponent of the Roman church, to Grand Lodge. Some investigation into how in the world, and why, the Duke managed to obtain this sword is required.
The Walpole-sponsored impact of Scott on Monamy's career is discussed here and here. Scott secured the East India Company's commission for six topographical scenes in collaboration with Lambert in 1732, one of which is shown here. See Jeremy Black, Walpole in Power, 2001, page 84.
Some useful reading: random titles
Burton, Robert = Crouch, Nathaniel: Martyrs in Flames: or The History of Popery. 3rd edition, 1729.
Beattie, John M.: The English Court in the Reign of George I. 1967.
Rogers, Nicholas: Resistance to Oligarchy, 1725-1747 [in London in the Age of Reform]. 1977.
Lowry, H.Graham: How the Nation was Won, 1630-1754. 1987
Galinou, Mireille (edit): City Merchants and the Arts 1670-1720. 2004.
Haynes, Clare: Pictures and Popery, 1660-1760. 2006.
Reilly, Tom: Cromwell was Framed, Ireland 1649. 2014.
never spoil a good story with the truth --- Irish saying
an unexamined life is not worth recording