The following highly compressed summary of the contents of this website was presented at the 33rd Annual Conference of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, held at St Hugh's College, Oxford, 3rd-5th January 2004. Benefit has been taken of hindsight, and the text is set out as it ought to have been delivered, and not as it actually was.


Until 1981 all published art-historical commentary is united in ascribing the figures in the conversation piece, discussed below and on subsequent pages, to William Hogarth. Well they might, since the above attribution was published in 1784 in Horace Walpole's inventory of the pictures at Strawberry Hill, and he was then the owner of this painting. From about 1983, however, it appears to have been tacitly omitted from the Hogarth canon. I have not been able to find any published support of Walpole's explicit ascription of it to Hogarth since then, except in the amazingly inaccurate entry in the Grove Dictionary of Art, 1996.

After recovering from the shock, in October 2005, of learning that this painting is now ascribed not to Hogarth, but to Gawen Hamilton, I am obliged to agree that this revised attribution seems very likely to be correct. Consequently, a number of amendments have been made to the text of this paper.


Early C18th Marine Painting
and the emergence of the English School

History is only a version of events, and the version presented here offers a radical alternative to the text-book art-historical accounts of the origins and development of English painting. Its basic propositions are (a) that for the first 25 years of the C18th in London the most pervasive and popular art genre was marine painting; and (b) that the foremost exponent of this genre was Peter Monamy. There is the greatest probability that the first framed easel painting bought by a newly prospering citizen during these years would have been a shipping or sea prospect; and that he would have bought it from the shop initially kept by Monamy on London Bridge.

The selections of images which illustrate and support this thesis are grouped in four parts:

1. Painter and Patron;
2. Sea Trade and Sea Power;
3. Virtuosi and Walpole;
4. Monamy's Legacy.

There are approximately 30 pictures, and each will be commented on very briefly, in a doomed endeavour to stay within the allotted time limit.

The single painting which provides the strongest and most compelling evidence for the significance of marine painting, until about 1730, is provided by the conversation piece reproduced on this page. This picture is virtually ignored by art historians, in spite of the fact that until about 1981 it was universally held to have been painted jointly by Monamy and William Hogarth. It is, however, not even mentioned in Paulson's exhaustive three volume study of the works of Hogarth; and is now believed to have been the joint work of Gawen Hamilton and Monamy. Nevertheless, in my view, it should still be regarded as one of the most historically important pictures in the entire canon of English art. It is discussed in Part 1, following. Click on picture or links below.

part one: painter and patron
part two: sea trade & sea power
part three: virtuosi & walpole
part four: monamy's legacy

post mortem

monamy website index

© Charles Harrison Wallace 2004, 2015
all rights reserved

mail here