Apply Hogarth's aesthetic theories to Monamy's paintings, for the sake of a little variety.


Left: a reconstructed selection of some of Hogarth's ideas from The Analysis of Beauty.

If the bulk of Monamy's work hadn't predated Hogarth by a decade or longer, I might have thought the second-rate marine practitioner had been picking up hints from the celebrated artist's tracte on aesthetics. But that's impossible of course. Monamy had been dead for four years when Hogarth published his startling and original thoughts.

Monamy was merely crying in the wilderness.

"Lomazzo ..... hath this remarkable passage, vol I book I: 'It is reported then that Michael Angelo vpon a time gaue this observation to the Painter Marcus de Sciena his scholler; that he should alwaies make a figure Pyramidal, Serpentlike, and multiplied by one two and three. In which precept (in mine opinion) the whole mysterie of the arte consisteth .....'" From the Preface to The Analysis of Beauty, 1753.

"Lomazzo says, chap. 29, book I. 'The Grecians in antiquity searched out the truly renowned proportion, wherein the exact perfection of most exquisite beauty and sweetness appeareth; dedicating the same in a triangular glass unto Venus the goddess of divine beauty, from whence all the beauty of inferior things is derived.'

If we suppose this passage to be authentic, may we not also imagine it probable, that the symbol in the triangular glass, might be similar to the line Michael Angelo recommended; especially, if it can be proved, that the triangular form of the glass, and the serpentine line itself, are the two most expressive figures that can be thought of to signify not only beauty and grace, but the whole order of form."

See here for more pyramids


Would Hogarth have seen Monamy's Dunkirk defence poster, painted for George Byng in about 1725?       Possibly; possibly not.

"The little ship ..... suppos'd moving along the shore even with the eye, might have its top and bottom bounded by two lines at equal distances all the way, as A; but if the ship puts out to sea, these lines at top and bottom would seem to vary and meet each other by degrees, as B, in the point C, which is the line where sky and water meets, call'd the horizon. Thus much of the manner of perspectives, adding beauty, by seemingly varying otherwise unvaried forms, I thought, might be acceptable to those, who have not learnt perspective." From Of Variety, Chapter II of The Analysis of Beauty.

Monamy had perhaps not been taught perspective, but he might have learnt it.

Hogarth's Ideas

hope and glory 1       hope and glory 2       hope and glory 3       what, when, why
Hogarth, Monamy, and The Connoisseurs
C18th Aesthetics
monamy website index


"The moral of the whole is clear: connoisseurship is the mortal enemy of the native practitioner"
Joseph Burke, editor of The Analysis of Beauty, 1955, Introduction, p. xv.

Trinity House Ceiling: too symmetrical to please Hogarth

© Charles Harrison Wallace 2004, 2012
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