à bout de souffle
Page Twenty

When a thing is asserted as a fact, always ask who first reported it, and what means he had of knowing the truth.
James Spedding, 1808 - 1881.

In a world of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
George Orwell, 1903 - 1950

A scholarly myth can spread 'like a computer virus' until it becomes accepted historical fact.
Helen Morales, TLS, May 15, 2009, p 11

at sea close hauled in a strong breeze.

Readers are reminded that this website is 100% non-commercial.

28 x 44. Signed P.Monamy. Victoria & Albert Museum. From V & A website.

10 July, 2013. Some of the information provided by the V & A website, as of today's date, is screaming out for rectification. Though few may find their way hither to this page, they could form an audience sufficiently fit to be concerned about these matters. The internet has changed the prospect of discovering truth. Confusion, nevertheless, still seems set on spreading. The date is stressed here, since the V & A's information may change as a result of ongoing research. See MMA. Say not the struggle nought availeth.

18 July 2013. Amazing! Has the struggle partially availed? Is the V & A info about the Monamy no longer accessible? Has the truth been not ignored? Some of the comments already composed for inclusion on this page are retained, for the record, but some of what was planned for additional comment may now be excised.

20 July 2013. Spoken (ie written) too soon. Just now (15.30; two days later) the site seems to be up again. Perhaps it never went away. Who can fathom the vagaries of the internet? The site categorically asserts it was: "Last updated: 3 July 2013". The clouds are still described as "cumulous". Also noted is a stunningly inaccurate entry for Swaine. Beyond belief. It must be corrected. I feel hounded to the end of my sanity. Mental paralysis threatens.

Quote: "Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend. Museum number: 1398-1869. ...... Eye-level, broadside view of a kaag, a type of passenger boat, with a white sprit-sail and brown foresail, ploughing through choppy waters. Two small flags, striped white and red, are of the municipalities of Terschelling and Vlieland. On the right, a British man-of-war, port bow view, with a 'Union flag' or 'Jack' mounted on its stern jackstaff; on the left, a Dutch ship, port stern view, flying two Dutch flags and three pennants. Marks and inscriptions: Signed by the artist in the left corner, 'P. Monamy Pinx'. Dimensions: Height: 70 cm estimate [27½], Width: 110cm estimate [43¾]." Townshend provenance is re-assuring: there seems to have been a link between Monamy and Towns(h)ends.

Comments: Who has ever defined the kaag as "a type of passenger boat"? Further on, the writer remarks "this painting depicts a kaag, a type of cargo vessel, which conveyed men and supplies to and from men-of-war ships." Consistency is not a modern scholarly virtue. See below for a freight kaag, by Porcellis, 1627. Presumably the kaag could convey anything from any point A to any point B. St Peter Port to Portsmouth, say. The Terschelling and Vlieland flags are an intriguing piece of research. The "Union flag" only becomes a "Union Jack" when it is worn on the Jackstaff. The "Jackstaff" is "a short pole erected ..... at the end of the bowsprit in the days of large sailing vessels". Quote from The Oxford Companion to Ships & the Sea, 1979. There is no such thing as a "stern jackstaff". The stern staff tends to fly an ensign. Click for Naval Jacks. Click here for the same ghastly and atrocious error perpetrated more than once by CHW in The Call of the Sea: Peter Monamy, Charles Brooking and the Early British Marine Painters, 2009. Pages 26, 55. It behooves an honourable man to apologise for, and to admit, mistakes; and Disraeli, or Jowett, or John Wayne, can get stuffed. Click here for fresh breezes.

Click. The Property of a Gentleman. 14 x 22. Phillips, 5 December, 1989. Lot 87. 50,000.

Robinson notes "indistinctly signed and dated on a piece of wood in the water lower right, W v Velde Jonge 1677."
Click here to compare painting, signed and dated dated on a piece of wood lower right on the sand: W.V.Velde J 1663

It might just be that we have here a genuine instance of Monamy following van de Velde, quite closely. There aren't very many examples of this allegedly constant practice of his, but this could possibly be one. Doubts linger, even so. There are several oddities about this little picture, not restricted to its unusually small size (for a van de Velde). Exactly half the dimensions of the V & A painting. Volume Two, page 814, of Michael Robinson's opus, The Paintings of the Willem van de Veldes, contains comments, and these, together with the words on my web-page, seem to have been studied by the V & A. The picture, of gentlemanly provenance, though totally unrecorded, appeared at a sale in 1989. just in time for inclusion in Robinson's 1990 publication. He remarks that it was "indistinctly signed and dated on a piece of wood in the water lower right, W v Velde Jonge 1677." He adds that this is "an unusual subject for the Younger to have painted in 1677". One senses a suppressed undercurrent of query in the rest of his note, and I can't help recalling his remark to me that "signatures don't mean much". There are a few other paintings by Monamy, however, of a not dissimilar nature, see here, which are clearly influenced by indubitable van de Veldes, rather in the way in which van de Velde had himself earlier been strongly influenced by Simon de Vlieger, 1600-1653.

Nevertheless, I am left to wonder, I hope not alone, where this little artwork might have been lurking, under its gentlemanly ownership, during the 312 years from 1677 to 1989, and also how it happened to pop up when it did, in the nick of time for Robinson's opus. Would Eric, or his friends, have found 50,000 useful in 1989?

Signed Monamy. 19 x 24. Rutland Gallery 1963.
This painting is closer, in content and measurements, to the signed van de Velde than to the picture in the V & A.

Signed P.Monamy (in red) lower left. Another account gives measurements of 28 x 38;
and describes the composition as "smaalschip carrying cargo on a squally day.
English Royal Yacht astern and frigate beating out of harbour."
Sotheby 6/5/64

The V & A note adds: "Descriptive line: Oil painting, 'Vessels at Sea', Peter Monamy. Bibliographic References: (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no): Charles Harrison-Wallace, Peter Monamy, 1681-1749: Marine Artist, 1983. Catalogue to an exhibition of the same name at Pallant House Gallery in 1983 (in which 1398-1869 is renamed, Port view of a kaag in a fresh breeze)." The catalogue subtitle "Marine Artist", is deeply regretted. I had written "Marine Painter", but this had been changed without my knowledge. The comment by the V & A about the "re-naming" of this picture causes amusement. Michael Robinson found the frequent descriptions of the paintings he was recording as "Shipping" to be hilarious. "Vessels at Sea" is only one degree less comical: it allows a choice between "Vessels at Sea" and "Vessels in Port". Descriptive precision is not standard museum practice.

A Freight Kaag by Porcellis, 1627. Vessels at Sea.

"..... in a work of art ..... we have to develop a technique of ..... asking questions which arise out of the work itself."
Helen Gardner, 1959.

"Every fresh truth is received unwillingly."
Alfred Russel Wallace

"If the facts don't fit the theory --- change the facts."
Attributed to Albert Einstein. Could he really have said that ?

next page is a fun page
skip the fun pages: go to the V & A Swaine
last page was a hot page

the monamy family: C16 & C17
fresh breezes one           breezes          fresh breezes two

chronology & authenticity
monamy website index

Sighs of Despair
à bout de souffle 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,
21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30.
addenda: porto bello; mcdonald "monamy"

© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2013
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