SOUTH FORELAND: THE DOWNS
68¾ x 121, signed C.Brooking Pinx. Presented to the Foundling Hospital 1754.
compare Tate Gallery painting, below.
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
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]
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]
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]
9 May. Engraving by N.Parr, after S.Wale. See here. And here.
"and in the great room or eating room is a large ship peece by Monamy." See Vertue III p.157.
6 February. Brooking presents his painting.
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".
15 July. Gen Committee: 'two sea views by Brooking' are recommended for cleaning and repairing. [Nicolson; p.83]
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."
Marine Art exhibition, Burlington Fine Arts Club, catalogue, No 1, stated the Monamy disappeared "about twenty years ago".
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.
See Joel; page 146
Brooking Pinxt. Publish'd according to Act of Parliament & sold by J.Boydell Engraver at the Unicorn, Corner of Queen Street, Cheapside, London, 1755
See Joel, page 174, and compare print above
Tate Gallery. 14½ x 40. See Joel; picture 231E, page 141. Compare Foundling Hospital painting, above.