PRINTS: INTRODUCTION

Excerpt from Perspective Views by C.J.Kaldenbach.

"As can be seen in the chart, there is surprisingly little similarity between the titles of perspective views in these catalogues. Similarities exist in a few places only: the 1753 Sayer catalogue is almost entirely the same as the first part of the 1754 Overton catalogue. Wording, subdivisions and typography are very similar. The C.Bowles 1784 catalogue is quite different from the Overton 1754 catalogue, except for a few scattered views. Only two groups of prints, the 'Gardens at Stowe' and 'Monamy's sea pieces', have the same titles. Greater similarity exists between the Laurie and Whittle 1795 catalogue and the combination Sayer 1753/Overton II 1754. There are 100 views with the same title, which means that more than half of Sayer's stock has been omitted. Similarities exist in the sections London, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Paris, and Monamy's sea pieces."   See flow-chart below.

   

After 1745, several prints after Monamy were designed for
Perspective Viewing
For Kees Kaldenbach's full account, see his website:
http://www.xs4all.nl/~kalden/auth/perspectiveviews.htm

Prints are a helpful guide to the authenticity of Monamy's works, but the subject is fraught with problems. Prints after Monamy began to appear in the early 1730s or late 1720s, and continued throughout the eighteenth century. The same plates were used repeatedly, at least until about 1795, when Laurie & Whittle appear to have taken over a great number of them from other dealers. Some plates were also acquired during this period by other engravers, who retouched them, and even substituted new names for both the original artist and engraver. Others were closely copied and printed in reverse. More than one set of engravings were also re-engraved and re-issued in smaller sizes. Later oil paintings, by a variety of other artists, were very probably based on Monamy's prints, and some may have been fraudulently signed, which may partly account for the great unevenness of the oeuvre ascribed to Monamy. Monamy himself also made free use of earlier prints. See here.

Here is a print, after the London marine painter Richard Paton, 1717-1791. The Dictionary of Sea Painters, 1980, remarks that some of his best paintings "show a strong influence of Samuel Scott, others that of Charles Brooking." The original oil of the print below appears to be influenced entirely by Peter Monamy, so presumably it would not be one of his best paintings.


8¼ x 11¼       Peatton (sic) pinxit       P.C.Canot sculpsit

No date is attached to my copy of this print, and it was clearly not published in England, although it might have been sold in London. The print is titled: WEIVE OF THE DOWNS SIEDE LONDON   ¦¦   VUE DES DUNES AUX ENVIRONS DE LONDRES. The writer's French is rather better than his English. At present I would not like to determine its precise country of origin, but assume France, or Holland.

Every passage in this print has its precedent in Monamy, with the possible exception of the vessel centre right, either moored or emerging from a creek or river. This includes especially the yacht, left, and the figures on the shingle, centre foreground, as well as the fanciful tower and archway, right. The central celestial orb suggests moonlight, although it may be that early evening is intended. Depending on the palette of the original, it is extremely probable that this painting, if it still exists, will have passed through a saleroom as Monamy. Nevertheless, the overall impression conveyed by the print would, in my opinion, date it to somewhere in the late 1750s or 1760s. Compare the painting on the back jacket of Cockett's book on Monamy. I begin to suspect that Paton was quite beholden to Swaine and Monamy.

below is a similar instance


7 x 10       C.Lempriere delin       W.H.Toms sculpt
Sold by John Boydell engraver in Cheapside

Undated, but it may have appeared not long after about 1754, which is the year Boydell made the transition from engraver to entrepreneur. This print may not have been preceded by an oil painting, since the inscription only says that Lempriere delineated it; but there is an oil painting, not unlike this composition, attributed to Monamy. In the course of developing this website, and well after constructing this page, an increasing number of variations on the theme of the dismasted ship have come to light: they are now addressed here. For Lempriere, see here.

These two examples are instanced to indicate the great likelihood that large numbers of otherwise unidentifiable marine paintings have passed as Monamys during the last two hundred and fifty years. The explicit attribution of these two prints to Paton and Lempriere can hardly be false, since the printseller would gain nothing by putting their names to his product, but matters are not always so straightforward. At least two prints after Monamy have been posthumously doctored in order to sell more readily. These are an untitled green mezzotint, by Joseph Sympson Junior, depicting a burning ship; and a storm scene engraved by R.B.Godfrey.


mezzotint by Sympson after van de Velde; the plate later re-touched by Houston, who replaced Sympson's name with his own


mezzotint by Sympson after Monamy; the plate later re-touched by Houston, who replaced Sympson's name with his own
and Monamy's name with van de Velde

The name Monamy on Sympson's mezzotint of the burning ship was later changed to read van de Velde, by Houston, who also substituted his own name for Sympson's, as he did on another plate by Sympson, after van de Velde, shown above. Godfrey's print was cut down slightly and changed to read Brooking instead of Monamy. Who knows, perhaps it was originally by Brooking? Here it is:

The left edge of the detail shown, including Monamy's name, has been sliced off. This print is mentioned by David Joel in Charles Brooking, p.176, no.614. With Monamy, and presumably also the owner of the painting, Mr Bradford, as well as the engraver, R.B.Godfrey, all dead by 1796, Messrs Laurie & Whittle felt no qualms about substituting Brooking for Monamy. The engraver's name was altered to B.B.Godfrey. The publisher of the print shown here was H.Bryer, who may have had the plate from R.B.Godfrey himself, as I believe I have seen an earlier issue of this engraving, with a slightly different inscription. Bryer's name and address off Tottenham Court Road appear to be a later addition. The full Bryer print is shown below.  

The following two images exemplify how, in my view, the possible misattribution of a painting, in this case to van de Velde, can be examined by comparison with a print. Unfortunately, things are not made clearer, but rather more obscure.

9¼ x 11½. Oil on panel. This small painting is, or has been, attributed to van de Velde, and is described in M.S.Robinson, The Paintings of the Willem van de Veldes, 1990, Vol 2, p.646. Robinson notes the discussions I had with him on this matter. If this panel painting is really by van de Velde it must be a virtually unique performance by the Master.

On p.292, Vol 1, of Dodsley's London and its Environs, 1761, there is mention of "A ship on fire, by Vandevelde: the effect surprizingly fine." The owner was John Barnard Esq, who lived in Berkeley Square, and 67 oil paintings are listed --- none of them by a native English painter. All the pictures, which are invariably described as exceptionally fine, and include one other Vandevelde ("A sea calm with English yachts, by William Vandevelde. The keeping, the figures, and the water, are uncommonly fine in this picture". p.289) are clearly the pride and joy of Mr Barnard, who must have been yet another of the connoisseurs who drove Hogarth to fury.

Mr Barnard, however, is unlikely to have been the owner of the little burning ship reproduced above, which is oil on panel. There have been works in museums, including the NMM, called van de Velde, signed Monamy; and vice versa.


F.Swaine Delin. Parr Sc.
London Printed for Robt Sayer at the Golden Buck opposite Fetter Lane Fleet Street ---
& Heny Overton without Newgate.

The print is tentatively dated to about the mid-1750s. In my view the significant factor is that it is in reverse from the oil. Although, as Robinson suggests, there may well be another version intermediate between the print and the oil ascribed to van de Velde, I do not see why an engraver should necessarily follow an oil, or drawing, with scrupulous precision. The images are quite similar, if not exactly identical. The print is stated to be delineated by Swaine. See here for more on The Burning Ship

Prints after Monamy continued to appear throughout the 18th century, at least until Laurie & Whittle's catalogue in 1794. Here are three posthumous examples, in smaller sizes than the 1745/46 series, which were all 10½ x 15. At the moment these smaller ones, circa 7 x 10, are dated approximately in the 1770s. Note the emphasis on the central perspective recession.


6½ x 10¼. Monamy Pinxt Wilson Sculp..
London Printed for Robt Sayer Map & Printseller opposite Fetter Lane Fleet Street.


6 x 10. P.Monamy Pinxt. No engraver's name. No 2
Printed for John Bowles at No 13 - in Cornhil & Carington Bowles in St Pauls Church Yard, London.

Copyright disputes, or evasion of Hogarth's copyright law, might account for the differences between the above prints. It seems as though Sayer had Wilson copy the Bowles print, which is why it appears in reverse. The original print, 10½ x 15, was issued by Bowles in 1745/6, as one of a series of ten or eleven prints, all engraved by Canot after Monamy. The later Bowles issue is not quite identical with the first.  

From Perspective Views, C.J.Kaldenbach, Print Quarterly, Vol II, No 2, June 1985.

This flow-chart demonstrates how print plates can have passed from one dealer to another during the eighteenth century. The sequence starts with Henry Overton I, in 1717, and ends with Laurie & Whittle in 1795. It can be better understood when it is recognized that Robert Sayer acquired Overton's business in about 1754, and also that Laurie and Whittle, who were Sayer's assistants, took over his business in about 1794, when Sayer died.

The print publishers dealt in views and prospects of every kind and genre. "An arrow indicates a description which is the same in the two catalogues, and the number on the arrow indicates the number of identical titles". However, it should be noted that identical titles do not necessarily mean identical plates. Moreover, the chart omits Sayer & Bennett's extremely comprehensive catalogue for the year 1775. Kaldenbach comments further: "Some perspective views remained popular for many decades; others did not sell as well, and were discontinued and the printing plates sold". His analysis is vivid testimony to the remarkable enduring popularity of Monamy's sea-views for 50 years from the painter's death in 1749.

Since posting the above note I have come to appreciate that this analysis is a pioneering effort, and that the full true picture is more complex, with several more print-sellers to take into consideration. The name of John Overton, inscribed on an engraving of London by Hollar, appears as early as 1666: there is a great deal more to be discovered in this area.

Mezzotint Marine Prints

Carol Wax, in The Mezzotint, 1990, mentions marine mezzotints only once, p.84. "During the eighteenth century, ..... marine subjects were rarely engraved in mezzotint. .... Marine subjects were commonly rendered in line or etched with aquatint, although a few fine images of this genre were engraved in mezzotint. .... it was a commonly held opinion that mezzotints were simply too dark to convincingly convey many of the effects inherent in landscape (ie also marine) painting." This site records 16 mezzotints by Kirkall "after vanderveld"; two mezzotints by Joseph Sympson junior, one each after Monamy and van de Velde; and another 4 or 5 by Kirkall after Monamy. Watson executed at least one after van de Velde. At least four mezzotints after van der Meulen are also known. There may be a few more done by Houston, although the two I am aware of were, in effect, stolen from Sympson.

This page touches on some of the problems connected with marine prints, and may also point to some of the difficulties of attributing the original oils. Other pages are organised as follows:

Prints Index
prints: introduction
ten prints by canot after monamy
canot's eleventh print: shipwrack
four prints in vauxhall gardens
the princesa: print and oils
small print set after monamy & van de velde
two more prints after monamy
mezzotints after monamy
small print set after swaine
monamy pinxt swaine delint
large prints after swaine: monamy manner
other prints after swaine
later prints after swaine
prints after baston
kirkall mezzotints after van de velde
other prints after van de velde
prints after other painters
prints published by sayer
etchings       drawings 1, 2
skelt's views
hazy weather: odyssey of an image

artistic range
monamy website index
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© Charles Harrison Wallace 2002, 2003
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