not exactly in the van de Velde vein: see here


Joseph Sympson Jnr & Elisha Kirkall

Elisha Kirkall (c 1682/5 - 1742 or '46?) produced many engravings in line, and in mezzotint. The "application of mezzotint in combination with another medium was very innovative for the 1720s, and Kirkall's approach to this technique may have been due to his lack of formal apprenticeship in mezzotint": Carol Wax, The Mezzotint, History and Technique, 1990. I am not sure that his prints after Monamy were anything other than straightforward mezzotints, although some were produced in his almost unique green colouring. There may be a total of five, as I have recorded the following: 1. Moonlight; 2. Coast Engagement; 3. Salute; 4. Storm; 5. Dismasted Ship, of which four are shown below.

It is possible that the "Salute" is the same as the "Coast Engagement", depending on the interpretation put on it by the cataloguer.

For some time I thought that the "Dismasted Ship" might be the same as a print I'd read was inscribed "A View or Representation of the late Storm which hapned the 20th day of December 1736, wherein his present Majesty / KING GEORGE the Second was in Iminent danger", since it was described as depicting a ship with a broken mast. Possession of this mezzo now proves that this is not the case:

original colouring: 15½ x 22¾

Mezzotint and oil: see here.

The Tate Gallery Illustrated Companion, 1979, remarks of the signed Monamy in the Tate, right, above, that it "anticipates Turner's stormy sensibility". There can be no doubt that Kirkall's green mezzotint, post 1736, is closely based on this particular oil painting by Monamy. In Marine Painting,, 1975, William Gaunt mentions (p.109) the oft-quoted comment by Turner, that "on looking again, after many years, at a print of Willem van de Velde 'Ships in a storm', he is said to have declared 'This made me a painter'." See here for Kirkall's storm mezzotints "after vanderveld". The mezzotint print Turner was looking at was fully described in Walter Thornbury's 1862 biography of Turner: "a green mezzotinto, a Vandervelde --- an upright; a single large vessel running before the wind ..." This comment appears on p.8 of the 1877 edition of Thornbury's Life and Correspondence of J.M.W.Turner.

Kirkall's inscriptions on his mezzotints as "after vanderveld", however, is somewhat loose. Some of these prints are clearly not after The Younger, as would have been widely assumed. Moreover, few commentaries differentiate in their mentions of van de Velde between the Elder and the Younger, let alone Cornelius van de Velde, either the uncle or the son of the Younger, or the Younger's other two sons, Pieter and William, and are totally unaware of the reputed daughter, who is also said to have worked in the van de Velde "workshop". Equally, another green mezzotint, such as the one above after Monamy, might just as easily have caught Turner's eye. The fact is that Monamy's "theatrical" storm scene could be thought of as not so much an anticipation of Turner, as, along with many other of his canvases, an inspiration. Monamy was expressionistic.

The exhibition catalogue for the show in honour of Turner held at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Oct 2003 - Jan 2004, remarks, p. 46, that Turner "transformed the Dutch seascape tradition that had remained static in England since the arrival of the Van de Veldes in the late seventeenth century." He did this, it seems, by applying "Poussinesque principles of structure and composition to his marines". Bluntly spoken; and highly debatable. English seascape painting during the 18th century had remained no more static than any other genre of painting in England, whether portrait, landscape, history, or whatever, although Turner was certainly, in the total range of his oeuvre, a very different painter from anyone before him.

Joseph Sympson Jnr (c 1705?-1736) produced at least one green mezzotint after Monamy. Untitled, it depicts a burning ship. This print later appeared with van de Velde's name substituted for Monamy, and Houston's for Sympson. In A Catalogue of Engravers, 1798, Walpole informs us that "Mr Houston died August 4, 1775". The elegant author also tells us, p 105, that "Joseph Simpson was very low in his profession ... till, having studied in the academy, he was employed by Tillemans on a plate of Newmarket, to which he was permitted to put his name, and which, though it did not please the painter, served to make Simpson known. He had a son of both his names, of whom he had conceived extraordinary hopes, but who died in 1736 without having attained much excellence." Houston gave the same treatment to another plate by Sympson Jnr, a storm, after van de Velde, although van de Velde's name was retained. Clearly, Houston didn't mind putting his name to Sympson's work, with or without permission.

P.Monamy pinxt Josephus Sympson Junr Fecit
Sold at Js Sympson's, at the Dove in Russell Court in Drury Lane.

Below are three after Monamy by Kirkall. I would have gingerly dated these, in particular the moonlight scene, to about 1732, but the storm scene is evidently post 1736 --- unless it was re-issued with a new inscription. It is also possible that Kirkall produced the plates more or less at the same time that he was launching his series "after Vanderveld", ie in the 1720s, or early 1730s. It seems now as though only the larger Kirkall mezzos were green-tinted; although in the case of the moonlight scene the colour appears to have faded to a sort of brown.

see moonlight paintings: here

original colouring: 7½ x 10
see picture manufactory: here

original colouring: 7½ x 10
see dismasted ship: here

From Sayer & Bennett's Catalogue of 1775
It's perfectly possible that none of these were done from Vandevelde
see here

No 4. A Storm: originally engraved by Sympson.

No 2. A Fresh Gale

Van de Velde, but which?
There were at least 3, possibly 6, marine painters of the name.
Kirkall issued 16 prints after "Vanderveld", at some time in the 1720s.

Kirkall's mezzotints "after Vanderveld"

Mezzotints by Joseph Sympson Junior

after vandevelde, by watson --- james ? born c 1739, died 1790; or thomas ? born 1750, died 1781
supposedly by james, according to a book published 2016, p 151: according to robinson, it's by thomas

illustration of original oil painting
below is the only other known marine engraving by either watson

This one is by Thomas Watson, after H.Kobell; Publish'd as the Act Directs Feb.y 7, 1771 for S. Hooper.

mezzos & original oils       kirkall's mezzotints
dismasted ship
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© Charles Harrison Wallace 2001, 2003, 2007, 2015, 2016
all rights reserved

"very low in his profession ..... a son of both his names ..... died in 1736 without having attained much excellence"

Bully for you, Horace, you knew how to dish it out.