Gunfire off the Casquets, 4th October 1744


The Sinking Ship

"Being decayd and Infirm some years before his death. which happened at his house at Westminster the beginning of Feb 1748/9 ----- leaving many paintings begun and unfinished. his works being done for dealers at moderate prices ----- kept him but in indifferent circumstances to his end". So says George Vertue, and there is no reason to disbelieve him.

Monamy's last decade was a time of war and death, infirmity and "decay", a word implying reduced circumstances, in the idiom of a later age. Apart from an almost frenzied production of contemporary English battle triumphs (at least six or seven versions each of Porto Bello, and the capture of the Princesa, see here and here), the fifteen or seventeen prints issued between 1743 and 1750 amount to a partial recapitulation or summary of Monamy's life works. Some of these prints I believe reproduce paintings belonging to earlier phases, eg the two prints by Fourdrinier, and Parr's prints of Moonlight and the Burning Ship. Those clearly datable to the final phase, eg the battle pieces and the loss of the Victory, are paired here with the original, or near-original oils. In some cases the oil may post-date the print.

Action Sep 23rd 1739. Print published October 28th 1743.

Capture of Porto Bello 21st November 1739.

Capture of the Princesa 8th April 1740


Three versions here in oil; two variously coloured prints. Besides leading indirectly to the death of Captain Thomas Durell in 1741, the difficulty of this ship capture warned that a long struggle lay ahead: 200 years from 1740 to 1945, during which period the British Empire rose and set.

The Print Series 1745
Were these the works "being done for dealers at moderate prices"?




The Capture of Louisburg, 1745. The last panorama.

The Nottingham takes the Mars, 11th October 1746. The last battle.
Painting by Monamy. Engraving after Swaine.


chronology introduction
phase 1: 1704-1720     phase 2: 1720-1731     phase 3: 1732-1739     phase 4: 1740-1749
additional commentary
phase 1: 1704-1720     phase 2: 1720-1731     phase 3: 1732-1739     phase 4: 1740-1749



Two paintings, both clearly signed P.Monamy, which have been proposed as his during this last decade are shown below. With the above pictures in mind, most of whose dates are indisputable, the first of those below is not by his hand, in my view, and the second is unlikely to have been produced at this stage in his life. On the basis of three paintings shown above: the loss of the Victory, 1744, the capture of Louisburg, 1745, and the Nottingham takes the Mars, 1746, it seems reasonable to me to date his decay and infirmity, "some years before his death", from about 1744, or even earlier. The sense is of a mild stroke, perhaps?

The Privateer Squadron, known as the Royal Family, raised by a syndicate of London merchants
in 1745 and commanded by Commodore James Talbot in the Prince Frederick of 32 guns.
The profit resulting from the initial cruise was 200,000.
23 x 28. Signed P.Monamy P... From Cockett, p.31

Neither the manner, composition nor the palette of the above painting suggests Monamy. The water and sky retain hints of the older man's style. The picture is, on the other hand, strongly reminiscent of Brooking. Moreover, Brooking painted several other marines, followed by engravings, which represent ships belong to the Royal Family Squadron. Since this enterprise was founded in 1745, the above picture can hardly have been painted before about 1746, less than three years before Monamy died, "decayed and infirm". In fact, it would be nearer two than three years, since he died before February 7th, 1748/49. It is scarcely possible that this vigorous painting is by his hand, although it just might have been signed by him, personally. This raises the question, again, of how many hands, and whose, worked in his studio. When Monamy died Brooking was still only 26, and in 1746 he would have been 23. Brooking's first two known paintings were of Moonlight and The Burning Ship, in 1740.

At an auction held by Christie's, 17th June, 1966, lot 127, click, was a painting attributed to Monamy, described as "The Engagement between HM Ships King George, Prince Frederick and The Duke, under the command of Captain George Walker, and three ships of the French Navy, 1745." It was unframed, and the dimensions were 18 x 28. The catalogue comments that "The action resulted in the capture of two French ships and booty of 700,000". A handwritten note in my copy of the catalogue has a query: Brooking? The painting is not by Brooking, but not improbably by Swaine.

This painting is discussed here.

A Painting School? A Picture Manufactory?

monamy website index
artistic range


© Charles Harrison Wallace 2003, 2013
all rights reserved