40 x 34; unsigned; attributed to Robert Woodcock
Christie; 19 Nov 1982; Lot 54

Alternative C18th Marine Painters

The intention here is to take a quick look at painters whose works may have been attributed to Monamy in past decades. Robert Woodcock (1692-1728) is the first name that comes to (my) mind. The calm depicted above was very confidently attributed to Woodcock at auction, and its ownership in 1982 clearly indicated. The implication was that its authorship was undeniable. However, without this assurance it might very well have been ascribed to any of several other painters; and, though only from this image, the name Cornelius van de Velde suggests itself.

The notice that Woodcock has attracted in English dictionaries of artists, and other reference books, derives, as expected, from the surprisingly detailed mention he receives from Horace Walpole. Since Walpole's Anecdotes, for a couple of centuries, has been the bible of the English art historian, it's necessary to see what he says about Robert Woodcock:

"..... of a gentleman's family, became a painter by genius and inclination. He had a place under the government, which he quitted to devote himself to his art, which he practised solely on sea-pieces. He drew in that way from his childhood, and studied the technical part of ships with so much attention, that he could cut out a ship with all the masts and rigging to the utmost exactness. In 1723 he began to practise in oil, and in two years copied above forty pictures of Vandevelde. With so good a foundation he openly professed the art, and his improvements were so rapid that the Duke of Chandos gave him thirty guineas for one of his pieces. Nor was his talent for music less remarkable. He both played on the hautboy and composed, and some of his compositions in several places were published. But these promising abilities were cut off ere they had reached their maturity, by that enemy of the ingenious and sedentary, the gout. He died April 10, 1728, in the thirty-seventh year of his age, and was buried at Chelsea."

With only a five year life-span as a painter in oils it's not surprising that his name rarely appears at auction. If he really painted above 40 copies of van de Velde, he turned them out at the rate of at least 8 a year (Walpole says 20 a year), as well as allowing for some original compositions. In Early Sea Painters, F.B.Cockett reproduces three works, two of which are signed and dated 1720 and 1727. The date of 1720 suggests that Horace errs in stating that he began his copies in 1723. Walpole was actually only following Vertue: see here. Woodcock's apparently easy access to van de Velde's originals suggest to me that he was on familiar terms with whoever was running the remains of the van de Velde studio in about 1720. Copies of van de Velde ascribed to Monamy in the past seem to me just as likely to have been by Woodcock. Scott seems to have started his painting career at about the same time. His first known dated work is inscribed 1726.

Cockett's section of six "rare painters", p 123, produces examples of painters whose works may have passed as by Monamy, from time to time. Below are a couple of pictures by Jan Griffier, 1651-1718, who lived in England for about 40 years, according to Cockett. Walpole gives his dates as 1645-1718, saying he died at "above 72", and calls him "agreeable". The two examples below, in handling if not in manner, are sufficiently unlike anything by Monamy, but others produced by his hand over a period of forty years could have been wrongly ascribed.

The pallette is unlike Monamy's: along with other differences

both the above images from cockett's early sea painters

Below is a picture credited to Joseph van Haecken, dates given as 1699-1749, no doubt according to Walpole. The name occurs in a variety of spellings: van Haeken, Vanaken, and so forth, and he has undoubtedly also been confused with the two van Hagens, Willem and Johann (Jan) from time to time. Walpole has this to say: "As in England almost every body's portrait is painted, so almost every painter's works were painted by Vanaken. ..... Hogarth drew the supposed funeral of Vanaken, attended by the painters he worked for, discovering every mark of grief and despair. He died of a fever, July 4, 1749, aged about fifty. He left a brother, who followed the same business." Walpole makes no mention of marines in his anecdote.

24 x 33; signed J.V.Haek..., lower centre; Sotheby, 7 Dec, 1994, Lot 113.
See Early Sea Painters, p.133

Isolating detail provides more suggestive parallels, but the palettes remain distinctive.

There seemed to me, at first glance, some similarity between the detail from Griffier's painting, and an etching by Francis Place, but any resemblance may be imaginary. Something about the way the hulls of the two vessels sit in the water.

The van de Veldes, Baston, the Vales, Scott, Brooking, Swaine, Paton, any of whom might more or less occasionally be mistaken for Monamy, are discussed on other pages. Click on names for links. Works now attributed to the elusive Leemans were consistently ascribed to Monamy, until about 1975, when his separate identity came to be recognized.

COOK, J. 1700? --- 1745?;
MELLISH, Thomas 1720? --- 1780?;
HOLMAN, Francis --- --- 1790.
ALLEN, Thomas 1735? --- 1772?;
van der HAGEN, Willem c 1740?;
van der HAGEN, Johann 1675 The Hague 1745 Dublin?
CLEVELEY, John, the Elder 1712 London 1777;
WRIGHT, Richard 1735 Liverpool 1775;
MAN, L d, fl 1725?;
HOLMAN, Francis --- --- 1790 ---
PATON, Richard 1717 London 1791 London

van BEECQ, Jan [1672, in England; 1681, in France] 1638 Amsterdam 1722 Amsterdam;

Apollo, Magazine of the Arts: for Connoisseurs and Collectors, October, 1937
"The Salute" by William Van de Velde, the younger
no dimensions or authentication vouchsafed


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