be right and persist
a motto worth adopting

"Ah, Voilà ma pauvre Prudente!"
see here for a longer excerpt from Young of Formosa by Sir George Young.

Poor Fred One

Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, 1707-1751, by Jacopo Amigoni, 1682-1752, painted 1735

In 1937 Sir George Young, 3rd Bart, published a book titled Poor Fred, the People's Prince.
This entertaining, gossipy account provides exceptional insight into the London years of 1729-1751.
An appreciation of the politics of these years is crucial to an understanding of Peter Monamy, the People's Painter.

Wikipedia: It was reported in The Daily Post, a London newspaper, of Tuesday, 20 May 1740, that the Prince of Wales had selected "the Picture representing the taking of Porto Bello" for particular inspection during a visit to Vauxhall Gardens the previous evening. Frederick, Prince of Wales, 1707–1751, was at that time publicly heading the political opposition to Robert Walpole.

Quote, from Poor Fred, introduction, page ix: "The eighteenth century is the earliest epoch in which we encounter English men and women with modern minds. ..... No doubt we find the Early Georgian English coarse and childish, highly coloured and highly cultured, crude and cruel. Nevertheless we can appreciate the workings of their minds, we can assess the weight of their motives, we can admire their want of morals and their wealth of manners. we can learn from their failures and can get light on our problems by throwing light on theirs."

In order to pursue the tricky C18th material provided by Sir George Young I fear another page is required. See Poor Fred Two. Meanwhile, on this one, I'm moved to zero in, yet again, on Swaine's evident kinship with Monamy, whose disciple he was.

Francis Swaine: "pupil of Monami"

Francis SWAINE - M Chr: 7 Oct 1725 Stepney, Saint Dunstan, London
Francis SWAINE - Mary MONAMY: Marriage 29 June 1749: AllHallows, London
Anna Maria SWAIN - F Chr: 27 Jan 1750/51 Stepney, Saint Dunstan, London
Monamy SWAIN - M Chr: 27 Feb 1753 Stepney, Saint Dunstan, London

See here for more on Francis Swaine.

Here are some interesting excerpts from the comments on a painting by Francis Swaine, currently displayed on the website of a well-known museum: "..... based on a signed work by Peter Monamy in the National Maritime Museum (A Man-of-War Firing a Gun at Sundown, BHC1003). The main elements of the composition are broadly similar. There are subtle variations in the rigging of the larger vessels, in the hoy, the figures, and in the smaller vessels of both works.

Swaine's picture is signed in the lower, left corner, with the abbreviation ‘F.S’ and the ‘S’ has a looped flourish.

The influence of Peter Monamy on Francis Swaine’s style has been noted and has led to an unfounded tradition that the latter worked in Monamy’s studio.

Swaine was a highly successful marine painter and draughtsman. His style was influenced by Willem van de Velde the Younger (1633-1707) and his contemporary, Peter Monamy (1681-1749), with whom his work is sometimes confused."

The "tradition", here alleged, but otherwise unrecorded, that Swaine worked in Monamy's studio, is anything but "unfounded". It could hardly be better founded, since it is noted by later commentators that Swaine was Monamy's pupil, his disciple and bred under him. The association is confirmed by the plethora of paintings, and especially prints, by Swaine that follow Monamy. In 1749, in the best tradition of the Industrious Apprentice, as illustrated by Hogarth, Swaine married his master Peter Monamy's daughter Mary, and carried on the practice. There is no evidence of any kind that Swaine was influenced by van de Velde. He did paint ships, of course.

Quote from the National Maritime Museum: "The English painter and draughtsman Francis Swaine was a pupil of Peter Monamy. He worked as a messenger in the Navy Office in 1735 and was practising as a marine painter by the late 1740s. He regularly exhibited in the Free and Incorporated Societies of Artists from 1761. Swaine's work was an interpretation of formulae made popular in England by Willem van de Velde the Younger, but it shows an informed knowledge of English shipping."

This note from the NMM is seriously confusing. Apparently the NMM now agrees that Swaine was Monamy's pupil. [Perhaps that doesn't allow him to have worked in Monamy's studio. He was certainly never a messenger for the Navy Office. That was the employment of his father.] Since there is no evidence that Swaine, any more than Monamy, applied the "formulae" [what are they ?] of van de Velde, why is this assertion followed by "but it (his painting) shows an informed knowledge of English shipping" ? Did van de Velde not have an informed knowledge of English shipping ? It is worth noting that Swaine wasn't actually born until the Younger van de Velde had been dead 18 years. Why is Swaine referred to as a "draughtsman" ? Where are his "draughts" ? He never drafted any.

The "tradition" that Swaine worked as a messenger in the Navy Office is profoundly unfounded, yet it has persisted for decades, and is repeated most recently in a tome published in 2016 entitled Spreading Canvas, page 9. The NMM website, and its minions past and present, display an almost pathological desire to stress the overriding dominance of the van de Veldes in every manifestation of English marine painting. The simple fact is that the works of the William van de Veldes, father and son, are grounded on draughtsmanship; whereas the works of Monamy, and his followers, are grounded on communication and expressionism, since Monamy was trained as a decorator and sign-writer. Their pictures are redolent of atmosphere and patriotism, characteristics of the art of Turner.

More to come.

Also, see the words of Ragnhild Hatton.

poor fred two
francis swaine
swaine genealogy
swaine & van de velde
prints after swaine
monamy website index
site introduction





© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2017
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