à bout de souffle

Page Eight

Who could have painted these pictures ?

The Landing of King William III at Torbay 1688

In one of the Monamy boxes, in the Witt Library, is a photocopy of this stunning painting, 42 x 71, which identifies it as follows:
P.MONAMY.     B/5596. Collection: Marquess of Tweeddale at Yester.   No 94 in the 1739 inventory as by Peter Meremy

On 16 November 1983, it turned up at Sotheby's, measuring 41 x 69¾, but catalogued as by Isaac Sailmaker.
It bears close comparison with the equally stunning picture, below:

National Maritime Museum. 37 x 71. Landing of William III at Torbay, 5 November 1688. BHC0326.

NMM notes: "This oil painting by an unknown English artist shows William III's landing in Torbay on 5 November 1688 leading 14,000 troops for the invasion of England. On the left of the composition the large Anglo-Dutch fleet seems to be closing in onto the beach and rocky coastline on the right. Boats with men are already coming ashore near Brixham and numerous horses are swimming ashore onto the shelving beach, having been put over the sides of the ships to land this way.

The style and colouring of the scene betray a strong influence of early 17th-century Dutch landscape painting.

The son of Charles I's daughter Mary, Prince William (1650-1702) married Mary, daughter of James, Duke of York, in 1677. James had by then already converted to Catholicism, which produced a series of political crises after he succeeded to the throne as James II on the death of his elder brother, Charles II, in 1685. These eventually led to a cabal of powerful English Protestant figures inviting William to usurp the British throne, based on the right of succession of his wife, Mary."

Above, left, is William's embarkation from Holland. The original painting is by Abraham Storck. The NMM 's notes continue: "In 1688 he agreed and on 5 November landed unopposed at Brixham, Torbay. He was welcomed in south-west England - which had suffered the retribution of James's 'Bloody Assize' following the defeat of the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion at Sedgemoor, Somerset, in 1685 - and was only briefly resisted by a few of James's Irish Catholic troops at Reading, west of London."

How can the eminent expert at the NMM actually and possibly know that the unknown artist was English? Could it not be that William, the King who shaped, rather than forged, the nation, was accompanied by a temporary court painter who recorded this Anglo-Dutch moment? This painting doesn't look English, in the slightest. According to Horace, William otherwise spent little on painters. He does seem to have booted the van de Veldes out of Greenwich. By 1694 the Younger is reported to have been scouring the Mediterranean. Was he hoping to renew auld acquaintance, mayhap, and revive former patronage?

Detail, right, of uppermost painting by this amazing painter.

William landing at Torbay. The unknown artist here, evidently a different one, is Dutch. Royal Collection.

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

"History is merely a version of events."
Napoleon, and others.

"History is something to be created rather than learned".
George Orwell, 1984.

"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.

Was an inventory really carried out in 1739? Could that be 1939?

"There are some curious men who form an idea of a master, by the sight of three or four of his pictures."
Roger de Piles, 1635 - 1709

Take another look at the Monamy & Walker conversation piece c 1730-33
This one is actually by Monamy and Gawen Hamilton.

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