the hamilton & monamy conversation piece is usually dated 1729-1731


"to remember his fame", dated 1731

The mezzotint print by John Faber, left, is firmly dated 1731, showing that by then storms were undoubtedly part of a still expanding repertoire. But, as suggested elsewhere, if Monamy can ever have been reaching for the crown of Pictor Londini, by 1734 it was out of reach. Besides, being aged 50 in 1731, Monamy was growing too old.

Samuel Scott had thrown in his lot with the Walpoles, and was starting to cream off the carriage trade in marines. "If various dealers the same Goods exhibit/They wish each other dangling on a Gibbet". John Gay.

The Painter submitting his Picture to the Examination of Connoisseurs and Antiquarians
Print, 1732-33; Painting, 1729-30

The Virtuosi, or Van Dyck's Club, or the Club of St Luke, were the John Ruskins of their day. Elizabeth Einberg points out that the club had a Catholic and Tory flavour to it. It would therefore also have been somewhat patronising, sniffy and pretentious, which is why Hogarth was not a member. Ruskin's effect on the art market, and the fortunes of the painters he damned, is expressed in an oddly timeless ditty by Shirley Brooks, 1816-1874.

I takes and paints,
Hears no complaints,
And sells before I'm dry;
Till savage Ruskin
He sticks his tusk in,
Then nobody will buy.

These two pictures, if correctly dated, suggest a severe hiccup in the painter's progress. The calm is very routine, bland and uninspired, and would not figure here at all if it weren't signed and dated. The ship portrait is livelier, but must be seen as a retrograde reversion to an earlier type of painting, executed in a more casual manner.

The impression of some form of psychological defeat or depression affecting Monamy's output in the period from about 1733 to 1735, which I have repeatedly sensed, has been curiously strengthened (to my surprise) by a comment only just discovered (June 2003): "H.T.Dickinson notes: 'From 1734 to 1736 the Opposition despaired and Walpole seemed at the height of his political career'. The leading figures among the opposition had lost heart and become less active after their election defeat of 1734." This observation comes from Britannia's Glories, p.46, by Philip Woodfine, and he cites P.Langford as well as Dickinson. A rather similar earlier hiatus in the output of Isaac Sailmaker is intimated by F.B.Cockett, in Early Sea Painters, see here.

Dating the plethora of calms is being left to last, when they can perhaps be fitted into the chronological framework created by these other themes.

It is possible that all Kirkall's mezzotints after Monamy date from about 1735-37; also, Kirkall's Algerine pirates mezzotint seems somewhat suspect. If these do date from 1735 onwards, it is evident that Monamy was putting a much greater effort into their production than into the bread-and-butter calms. So far, the painting below is unique.   NB. 2013: a very similar, but slightly suspect-looking version has appeared since that last sentence was written.

        1735?   1736?        

Panoramic types from mid to late 1730s.  

Racing yachts: late 1730s (?).  

Both signed. The date 1738 has been indicated, especially regarding the picture at right.
The date suggested for these two paintings, however, accords very poorly with other works
painted during the late 1730s.


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