"Two other marine painters who may have been similarly influenced, or who found their inspiration in local tradition rather than from imported expertise, signed their pictures H.Vale and R.Vale. These are probably by the brothers Humphrey and Robert Vale, baptised at St Mary's, Whitechapel, in 1690 and 1692. They and Monamy may conceivably have formed a sort of loose school under Sailmaker." Article 1981.
"By about 1718 Monamy appears to have outstripped the Vale brothers, compatriot Londoners who must have been early rivals." Article 1983.
Twenty years on, these remarks require a little reconsideration. In Early Sea Painters, Cockett lists four paintings signed H.Vale and three signed R.Vale. He adds another fifteen unsigned paintings "attributable to the Vales", some of which are more convincing than others. The most immediately interesting of these pictures is the ship portrait signed H.Vale, and dated 1727, which is reasonable proof that the painter continued in business for at least a decade longer than I'd assumed in 1983.
The Maritime Museum's website remarks are of also of interest. After commenting on the lack of documentary evidence about the painter, it states: "But it is known that he was working in England in the style of van de Velde and Sailmaker between 1705 and 1730. The artist produced three other painting(s) on the same subject. Signed 'H Vale'." The total of four paintings on the subject of the Relief of Barcelona cannot really include the painting displayed on the site, which seems to be of a quite different action. The terminus a quo of 1705 is new to me, as I'd believed the first dated painting was from 1713, and the existence of one dated 1705 would help further to place the painter's oeuvre. Why he is said to work in the style of van de Velde remains an enigma. I have yet to discover a van de Velde showing a naïve panorama incorporating a cartouche, which seems to me exclusively typical of Sailmaker, and characteristic of native painters trained up in the local tradition. I also doubt whether Vale had access to or ownership of any drawings by van de Velde.
My firm belief that H.Vale is the Humphrey Vale baptized on 9th July, 1690, at St Mary Whitechapel is based on a conjunction of circumstances: date, location, and the baptism of a brother named Robert in 1692. However, these boys' parents were named Humphrey and Hannah, and, if we have the right family here, perhaps the elder Humphrey was in the painting trade as well. Assuming that the date 1727 is an accurate terminus ad quem, the known working period for H.Vale spans fourteen years, from 1713 to 1727, pending the confirmed existence of a painting dated 1705. Although the similarities between his pictures and some of Monamy's paintings are very apparent from the selection reproduced below, there are nevertheless also fairly marked differences in palette and draughtsmanship, at least in those pictures I have actually seen, and the two hands should not be mistaken for each other. The portrait by H.Vale of the Royal Katherine, below, comes from Frank Fox's exceptionally fine study, Great Ships, The Battlefleet of King Charles II, published in 1980.
The Royal Katherine, by H.Vale. The NMM website notes this ship was broken up in 1698.
Frank Fox comments that Mulgrave commanded the ship in the Third, not Second Dutch War
See Great Ships, p.84.
Ship portraits must have been based on shipwright draughts, and painted at any later time.
An English third rate. Signed P.Monamy and datable to c 1710.
An English sixth rate. Signed H.Vale and dated 1714.
Signed H.Vale and dated 1727.
Portrait of a privateer. Signed P.Monamy and dated 1734.
The Battle of Cape Passaro, 1718. Signed H.Vale
Capture of the Princesa, 1739. Version by or after Monamy.
Life event from the family search site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:
HUMPHREY VALE: Christening: 09 JUL 1690
St Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, London, England
Father: HUMPHREY VALE