à bout de souffle

Page Five

Who painted this picture? And what battle is it supposed to show?

Lately identified as The Battle of Malaga, 13th August, 1704
Credited to Studio of Peter Monamy. Oil on canvas. Dimensions: 12 x 17 in.

How can this scene suddenly be identified as depicting the Battle of Malaga? Since at least the mid-1720s paintings of this composition have almost always been held to portray the fight of a Captain Kempthorne against seven Algerine pirates. That's Algerine, not Algerian. But which Captain Kempthorne?

The answer to the first question is discovered today, 7 June 2013, as due to the over-enthusiastic researches of a marine historian, who had evidently paid far too little attention to art history. The answer to the second question has to be Morgan Kempthorne, born 1655, second son of Sir John, who died in this battle against seven Algerines in 1681. His ship was the Kingfisher.

W.Vanderveld Pinx.             E.Kirkall Fecit
Printed & Sold by E. Kirkall in Wine Office Court, Fleet Street. BM AN260344001

24 x 35;. Christie's 12 May 1967; lot 53; Spink 1968;. Sold as Willem van de Velde the Younger.
Property of the Earl of Midleton
The painting below, although an extremely close variant, is not the same.

28 x 36. Unsigned. "Studio of van de Velde". Provenance given as The Marquess of Sligo, London, 1955;
Clive Gomshell-Lloyd, England, 1961; Alan Jacobs Gallery, London, 1977.
Perhaps the second owner above should read Clive Lloyd, Gomshall Gallery.
Christie's, 21 May, 2008, Lot 12.
Now, 2013, with the Vallejo Gallery.

30½ x 45½ .Ascribed to Willem van de Velde. Described as Barbary Pirates Attacking A Spanish Ship
Any old battle will do: just switch the flags around a bit.

The Americans muscle in, alternating the sense. From Aftermath of the Wars against the Barbary Pirates, 2009.

33½ x 49½. Signed Peter Monamy, and dated 1734. NMM BHC0297. "A poor painting."
This inscription, which is very evidently erroneous, reads: Capt Kempthorns Action in the Mary Rose a small frigate with Seven Algerines in the Mediterranean in 1669 Where as the Song says:
Two we Sunk Two we Burnt and Two did run away
But one we carried to Leghorn Road to shew we'd won the day.

The signature and date are just discernible below the verse inscription. They went totally unnoticed until about 1930.

22 x 51½. Signed P.Monamy. Sotheby 27 June 1973. One of a pair of overdoors.

Paintings paired, both signed. 27/6/1973, lot 83, Sotheby.

In Volume 1 p.211, of his work on the van de Veldes, Michael Robinson notes as follows: "A poor painting, perhaps of the Kingfisher action ..... (which) bears no relation to the Buckingham Palace picture (by van de Velde) ..... was for long catalogued as by Van de Velde, but it was found to have the signature of P.Monamy and the date 1734; it may be a copy of Van de Velde by Monamy." In fact, the great probability is that it derives directly from Kirkall's green mezzotint, produced circa 1725-1730. The Buckingham Palace painting, signed by de oude, was part of the collection of James II. It represents the Kingfisher action of May/June, 1681, in which Captain Morgan Kempthorne was killed. There is another van de Velde painting representing the Mary Rose action of December, 1669, which is discussed by Robinson on pp 158-161 of his Vol I.

click for full picture
About as authentic a bunch of painting details by Monamy as could be found.
1726. Not signed NB.

"In one view ... the history of scholarship is a history of error".
E.G.Stanley, 1975.

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

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