When George in pudding-time came o'er
And moderate men looked big, sir,
My principles I chang'd once more,
And so became a Whig, sir.

The Vicar of Bray 1734   aka Robin Walpole  

"A sizeable chunk of art history consists of unravelling other people's errors and substituting your own." Iain Pears, The Raphael Affair, 1990, Chapter 5.

British Art Historians since c 1762
and their eye-stretching rubbish

The 250 years and more that have passed since Horace Walpole published his Anecdotes have been been profoundly misread by British art historians, slavishly subject to him, John Ruskin and similar corruptors of our heritage. They are still spreading their perverted ignorance to a deceived population of students. Did Turner suddenly pop up from nowhere ? I remember discussing Turner with an artist of today, who said he'd always wondered what or who had led Turner to paint in such vivid colours, and show such interest in natural light.

Here's Wikipedia, finally waking up: "Fishermen at Sea, exhibited in 1796, was the first oil painting shown by Turner at the Royal Academy". It shows strong influence by artists such as ..... "Peter Monamy and Francis Swaine, who was admired for his moonlight marine paintings. This particular painting cannot be said to show any influence of Willem van de Velde the Younger, as not a single nocturnal scene is known by that painter." Is the message at last getting through ? Has the penny dropped ? Has Wikipedia been reading The Call of the Sea, 2009 ? See page 37: "atmospheric night scenes were later produced by Sebastian and Henry Pether, J.C.Ibbetson and John Moore of Ipswich." See page 39: "..... between 1756 and 1840, as recorded by the Getty Provenance Database, eighteen moonlight scenes attributed to Monamy were auctioned at public sales. ..... It is notable that not a single work by van de Velde depicting moonlight is known, underlining one of the many differences between them and the English school of marine painters." See also page 52: "Some of Monamy's paintings ..... are distantly echoed in the works of J.M.W.Turner."

See here
. See here also.

Peter Monamy and Francis Swaine are, naturally, very seldom, if ever, mentioned at all by British and other art historians, still well and truly under the Walpole cosh.

Heigh-ho. Here we go again: "Willem the Younger's art had effectively established the defining conventions of British marine painting, which would never stray far from his example for the next hundred years or more." Solkin, page 11. Repeats the mindless mantra of the conventional British art historian, first uttered in 1957. Sorry, Mr Columbus, we have all known for many years that the earth is flat. You are gravely mistaken, Mr Galileo. The sun goes round the world, not vice versa, and we intend to place you under house arrest for the remainder of your life. Take care never to stray far from officially received opinion, now.

Here's what the Tate Gallery had to say in 2004. Sorry, Tate Britain, nowadays. Tate Britain ? This nightpiece of the Thames, Moonlight, a Study at Millbank, from a position near that of Tate Britain, belongs to 1797. "Moonlight effects were a fashionable pictorial convention, mainly derived from Dutch seventeenth century painters like Aert van der Neer then popular with British collectors."

It isn't totally clear to me, in that sentence, if British collectors were falling over themselves to collect van der Neers, or fashionable and conventional moonlight scenes by other painters, such as the Pethers, John Moore, Ibbetson, Swaine and Monamy, but this painting by Turner certaily looks more like a van der Neer. Perhaps he had been encouraged to dig deeper in his search for inspiration by everyday contemplation of the British exponents.

Moonlight: a Study at Millbank. Oil on Mahogany. 314 x 403 mm.

Monamy's concern with light is not restricted to nocturnes, however. The prints after his paintings include Morning, Noon, Sun under a Cloud, Evening, Night and a Ship on Fire; and his studies of sea conditions cover calms, fresh breezes, storms and shipwrecks. It was difficult for subsequent British marine painters not to follow him.

Let us look forward to an account of British marine painting, which is planned for issue by Yale, perhaps in support of the Solkin study of C18th art. This will describe how marine painters were documentary and sublime purveyors of Britain's global military presence, deployed in a wealth of modes, pictorial, planimetric, narrative, and plastic, which was of concurrent overarching relevance to other metropolitan cultural activity. Ouf.

the connoisseur and the painter, circa 1730-1732 ?
by Gawen Hamilton. But not according to Horace Walpole.

Tell em the Generous scorn their Rise to owe
To Flattery, Pimping, and a gawdy shew

published in Marvell's works, 1726.

spot the van de velde influence ?

".....the styles of Scott and Peter Monamy, and ultimately of all the English marine artists of the eighteenth century,
were formed entirely on that of the Van de Veldes."
Page 275, The Oxford History of English Art 1625-1714, by Whinney and Millar, 1957.

God help us.


monamy website index
the decorator one
decorations displayed
public display at vauxhall gardens
vauxhall gardens
hogarth, monamy, and the connoisseurs
garrick and hogarth
british art history
british painting 1660-1815
a conversation of virtuosi

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© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2016
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