black & white image, and colour detail, scanned from leggatt brothers catalogue, 1970

Detail: the McDonald Collection painting: ascribed to Monamy




An Exhibition of Paintings from the Collection of Dr.D.M.McDonald was mounted by Leggatt Brothers in London, 16 October - 6 November 1970. The catalogue was by Robin Gibson, with a foreword by Roy Strong, and the pictures in the collection showed that it had been assembled with great discrimination, especially for anyone interested in English painting. The question of the real authorship of The Royal William Firing a Salute, unsigned, attributed to Monamy, was frequently raised with me by Michael Robinson between 1980-85, and at the time I was unable to give any useful and considered answer. If the painting was by Monamy, then the many copies of van de Velde that Robinson was concerned with could also be attributed to Monamy. If this painting was not by Monamy, then some other copyist had to be found. I am now perfectly sure that it is not by Monamy.

The note by Gibson, "born of parents who came from Guernsey", was ten years ahead of its time, and although subsequently ignored by the art world, arrogantly in some quarters, shows the catalogue compiler's conscientious and independent-minded research. However, the remark repeated below seems to me another instance of the erroneous impression of Monamy's painting manner which prevailed for most of the 20th century. Otherwise, the catalogue impresses as having been compiled with scrupulous care, and every signed painting has the location and details of the signature meticulously recorded. During the thirty years since the catalogue's compilation, this painting of The Royal William Firing a Salute seems to have grown a signature: see next page. Is there a finer instance of Michael Robinson's dictum: signatures don't mean much?

The above statement was taken for granted by the art world during the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and to a lesser extent before and since. There seems to be good and sufficient reason to believe it untrue. Monamy did paint pictures of this type, but it should not be described as a "favourite motif" since many of his calms are not of this character and composition. This aspect will be thoroughly examined elsewhere. Meanwhile, consider the print evidence.

mcdonald "monamy": closer examination

complete picture from detail E, above right

Complete picture from detail F, above right. Same artist as McDonald "Monamy", so-called?
Could this be one of Woodcock's "forty copies of van de Velde?"

See here for another painting possibly by the same hand.

dissection of details
calm excellence: one       calm excellence: two
thomas leemans
monamy website index
monamy problems


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