"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." Albert Einstein, 1901

The Hanoverian Accession, 1714: the most significant political event of the last 300 years of British history.
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Another Look at this Intriguing Painting

Currently being advertised as follows:
King George I's first arrival in England in the Peregrine Galley in September 1714, with Tilbury Fort saluting
Signed lower centre: P. Monamy . pinx.       Oil on canvas: 26 x 61.       Painted circa 1714
The possibility that Peter Monamy produced this painting in 1714 is precisely nil.
See Poor Fred, here.

First a few choice words excerpted from Rupert Preston's book The C17th Marine Painters of the Netherlands.

Reference pages 9, 10, 11; also pp 33 and 34.

Bearing the above advice in mind, this painting, named on a previous page as JRM, with the JR standing for John (Windeler) Robertson, 1934-2012, but on this page as The Hanoverian Accession, has been discussed almost ad nauseam, along with earlier representations indubitably by Monamy, of the same event. See here. The painting heading this page, while certainly representing the Hanoverian Accession, is substantially unlike the several other paintings representing the event, all of which are quite definitely by Monamy's own hand, and which appear to have been originally observed from a vantage point off Gravesend, looking towards Tilbury. One of these is dated 1724, and another has the impeccable provenance of the Grocer's Livery Company, the original premises of the Bank of England. See drawing at foot of this page.

Rupert Preston's points about the usefulness of the flags and historic occasions, represented in marine paintings, are very just. What he omits to mention, however, is that these depictions give a terminus a quo, but decidedly not a terminus ad quem. In other words, they provide a point of origin, but not a limiting point of the time in which they were produced. This Hanoverian Accession painting first appears on the art market at Sotheby's, on 13th November, 1991, lot 2. There is no evidence of any kind submitted to indicate when it might have been painted prior to that date and after September 17, 1714. Remarkably few people seem to appreciate that an oil painting is not a photograph, and could have been produced at any time after the event depicted.

The "stylistic qualities" of this representation of George I's progress up the Thames estuary are extremely rare, and very late, in Monamy's oeuvre. Nevertheless, they do exist, and it bears remembering that "engravings executed during Monamy's lifetime are an excellent guide to the genuine manner of his oeuvre." What must be regarded as the very probable original oil of one of these engravings, Fresh Breeze/Gale or Vent Frais, is shown below, together with the print which follows it, published 1745/46. This indicates a precedent in Monamy's later works for a composition adopted with thoughts of what is known as the diagonal mirror in mind, and it may have been influenced in its conception by the contemporaneous existence and progressive development of the diagonal mirror, or optical pillar machine. See here.

Click here for a page on Large Ships Heeling..

NMM. Donated by Captain Bruce Ingram.

The composition is, to my mind, strikingly similar to the above painting, undoubtedly by Brooking, depicting a view up the Thames estuary, but some way further downstream. Gravesend is shown from an almost identical angle, but Tilbury is a long way ahead in the distance. The diagonals are far less obviously marked. The colours of the palette also seem somewhat different, although it is difficult to tell in the digital reproductions. Brooking's picture was also mis-identified for at least 50 years.

Perhaps as a consequence of the investigations mounted on this website since at least 2012, coupled with a personal visit during early 2015, and an explanatory letter written and despatched on 28 Jan '15, politely acknowledged, the present custodian of this painting has subsequently decided to revise the information accompanying it. An emeritus familiar with the history of ship construction, who knows his ensign from his jack staff, has been co-opted, and a number of details have been added to the description; with the location and nature of the historical event depicted agreed, albeit my input is ignored.

While the fruits of my thirty-five years of study devoted, off and on, to the heritage, life and works of Peter Monamy, and the political, social and cultural climate of his times, are thus disregarded, my aim now is to correct what I consider to be the mis-understandings expressed in the revised notice. The revised commentary, while providing much incidental detail about ship architecture, and logbook accounts of George's arrival upon the shore of his new kingdom, sheds no light at all on the date of production, or even on the authorship, of this fascinating painting. Statements considered faulty, misguided or outright erroneous in the revised description are texted on this page in red below. See also the comment in fugitive notes.

The first point concerns the assertions concerning George I, which I regard as profoundly wrong. In 1714 George Ludwig, the fifty-eight year old elector of Brunswick-Luneburg became, as George I, the first of the Hanoverian dynasty to rule Britain --- as a constitutional monarch.. Until his death in 1727 George served as both elector of Hanover and British monarch.

The biography written by Professor Ragnhild Hatton, 1913-1995, is the only comprehensive and reliable account of George's life and reign, first published in 1978. Prior to her biography the king's real character had long been concealed by anti-Hanoverian propaganda. George emerges in this ground-breaking biography as an impressive ruler who grasped the responsibilities the accession brought him, and set out to develop the innate vigour and potential of what might have been considered the papist-threatened English nation. Ragnhild Hatton was Professor of International History at the University of London and the author of Charles XII of Sweden (1968), Europe in the Age of Louis XIV (1969) and Louis XIV and his World (1972). Jeremy Black, who has written a foreword for the 2001 Yale edition of Hatton's George I: Elector and King, is Professor of History at the University of Exeter.

According to the revised notes: "George I spoke little English and made frequent voyages back to his Hanoverian territories, employing the Royal yachts depicted in Monamy's painting. The initial burst of enthusiasm for the new King, reflected in Monamy's painting by the small boats setting off from Gravesend to greet him, soon dissipated into resentment by his English subjects. However, Jacobite attempts in 1715 to replace him with Queen Anne's Catholic half-brother James (the 'Old Pretender') were firmly suppressed. George I's offspring integrated with their British subjects much more successfully, and the Hanoverian dynasty ruled the country until the death of Queen Victoria in 1901."

What better witness could there be of the success of early anti-Hanoverian propaganda than this palpably incorrect interpretation of the house founded by George I ? Here is a verdict on George written by a contemporary Dutch diplomat, who knew him well: "he is much concerned for his reputation but is not excessively ambitious; he has a special aptitude for affairs of state, a well-ordered economy, a very sound brain and judgement; he does not waste his time on trifles; he keeps good discipline among his troops and good order in his finances; he does not flare up, being of a calm temperament; he bears justice in mind at all times and, withal, he is goodhearted". From Hatton, page 298.

What is thy opinion of James Duke of York?
The Same that the Froggs had of Jupiters Stork ...
If e're he be King I know Brittains Doome;
Wee must all to the Stake or be Converts to Rome.


Far from dissipating into "resentment", the ordinary Londoner was overjoyed, finally, to see the firm establishment of the Protestant Succession, and was delighted to be ruled, not by King Stork, but by King Log, who could not have encouraged him better than by leaving him to his own devices. Peter Monamy produced a large number of canvases recording George's accession. James Thornhill completed his decoration of the Painted Hall in Greenwich, celebrating naval mastery and the Protestant Succssion, and was knighted. The fleet "increased its number of fast ships during his reign". See Hatton, page 295. Times were set fair, as Tom Doggett, among many, surmised, for the British Empire to spread and flourish, and to face up to Catholic Spain and France. This process had been initiated by Robert Blake, Cromwell's General-at-Sea, during the Commonwealth.

The battle roll selected for distinctive honour on the scroll in the Painted Hall at Greenwich, following the Hanoverian Succession, is highly significant. It includes the repulse of James III off Edinburgh by Byng, after his Blockade of Dunkirk; followed by the Capture of Minorca, and the annihilation of the Spanish Fleet off Cape Passaro, Sicily, also by Byng in 1718. These forgotten victories were clearly regarded as of crucial importance to the survival of the Protestant nation until the accession of George II in 1727: hence their commemoration in several of Monamy's paintings of contemporary history.

As Ambrose Bierce perceptively observed, see his Devil's Dictionary, 1911: "The fires of animosity enkindled in that ancient strife" (between the Cavaliers and the Roundheads) "smoulder to this day beneath the snows of English civility." See here, passim. See also Boyd Tonkin's manic review of Roundhead Reputations by Blair Worden. See here. For a truly unpopular Hanoverian monarch, look no further than George II. He failed disastrously "to integrate with his British subjects."

See also here.See also here for Royal occasion conundrums. See also here for more Royal occasion conundrums.

Here follow a selection of somewhat self-contradictory, and otherwise ill-founded speculations about Monamy's role in connection with this nation-shaping event. Vice-Admiral James Berkeley, 3rd Earl of Berkeley KG PC, 1679-1736, had collected the new Protestant king, and delivered him at Gravesend on September 18th, 1714.

It is likely that Monamy was working from memory or incomplete information and produced a more or less standard yacht stern. There is a possibility that Monamy was on board her [the Jamaica sloop] as part of Berkeley's suite, and sketched the scene from life. "There is no sign of his name in the muster and pay books of the Monck or Jamaica, but that is only to be expected." It is, indeed: since he quite certainly wasn't there. See foot of this page. 1714 was a rare moment when he [George I] was popular. George I was never so popular again after his first arrival. Completely misleading. There is a portrait of Berkeley, which bears the signature of Monamy. Though it has been suggested that he only executed the seascape to the right [of the portrait], it does establish a connection and raises the possibility that Berkeley commissioned the picture of the royal arrival. Extremely unlikely.

Information of passing interest: The Peregrine Galley was originally built in 1700 to a design by Peregrine Osborne, son of Charles II's minster Lord Danby, who was a naval officer and talented naval architect. She was classified as a 20-gun sixth rate in her early years but did much royal duty before bringing George I to England in 1714. After that she was re-classified as a yacht and re-named Carolina.

The list book also "records that the sloop Jamaica was present during the voyage, and her log records that Admiral Berkeley transferred his flag from the Monck to her to follow the yachts up the Thames. .... This makes it clear that the Jamaica was present when passing Tilbury. No vessel like that is shown in the painting, which raises the intriguing possibility that Monamy was on board her as part of Berkeley's suite, and sketched the scene from life." "It is likely that Monamy was working from memory". See above. Was he, or was he not, sketching from memory ? Why on earth do people persist in thinking an oil painting is a photograph ?

The authenticity of a number of Monamy's oil paintings is substantially endorsed by the existence of prints, all published prior to Monamy's death in 1749. The attribution of these oil paintings to Monamy can thus be determined with some reaonable certainty. The Hanoverian Accession discussed on this page, however, doesn't readily fit into this authentication. At one point I thought it might have been produced in about 1734, when the opposition to Walpole, and his manipulation of George II, was becoming obvious to the British patriots. I now tend to believe it to have been produced in about 1744-1749, possibly by Charles Brooking.

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"Forgeries are more real than the real art they fake." Jonathon Keats.
nihil sapientiae odiosius acumine nimio

"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

All truth passes through three stages. 1) It is ridiculed. 2) It is violently opposed. 3) It is accepted as self-evident.
Arthur Schopenhauer

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear "
"The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history."
"From the totalitarian point of view history is something to be created rather than learned."
"Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper."
"In a world of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
"Truth is treason in an empire of lies."

George Orwell, 1903 - 1950

"Only he who is directly interested in a thing, and occupies himself with it from love of it, will pursue it with entire seriousness.
It is from such as these, and not from wage-earners, that the greatest things have always come."

Arthur Schopenhauer, 1851

All that concerns the gentry punting in these waters is the dosh, and how much is in it for them. Consequently, following the lead provided by the art gourmet's supreme example of pâté-de-foie-gras, Horace Walpole, a fictitious persona was gradually developed for Monamy,
complete with an ever-expanding number of misattributions, and, assuredly, utterly spurious latter-day fabrications.

Does it matter, and anyway, who cares ?

Roger de Piles once memorably remarked: "There are some curious men who form an idea of a master, by the sight of three or four of his pictures; and who, after this, believe they have a sufficient authority to decide what his manner is; without considering what care the painter took about them, and what age he was of when he drew them. .....

There is none also that had not his beginning, his progress, and his end; that is to say, three manners."

This comes from the English translation of his Art of Painting, first published in 1706

Currently ludicrously mis-titled The Landing of William of Orange at Torbay, 1688. Very convincing signature, here enlarged.
Gray wash, pen and black ink, and pen and brown ink on medium, slightly textured, beige laid paper. 9¼ 14½
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection. Accession number B1975.4.1664

There are at least six or seven known paintings by Peter Monamy of the Arrival of George I, 1714.
What is puzzling is why the drawing is in the reverse of most of the oils


© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2015, 2016
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