At left is an angel, or a saint, scanned in from Horace Walpole's Ędes Walpolianæ, second edition 1767, which lists the paintings in Premier Robert Walpole's picture collection. The point is that C18th art is intrinsically political. Marine painting is a Protestant genre, ideally practised by Protestant nations, England, Holland, Scandinavia. The truth about the van de Veldes is that they were bought in by the Roman Catholic totalitarians, James, Duke of York, and King Charles II. This is imperfectly understood by the majority of art historians, most of whom are inadvertently, and largely subconsciously, endorsing a Papist backlash. Marine painting, apart from the works of the poodle van de Veldes, is therefore ignored, with an exception made for Samuel Scott, a spaniel of the Walpoles, just as Sir Robert was the spaniel of Spain.

The greatest historical heresy that a writer can commit in the eyes of many English readers is to tell them the truth.
Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, 1747 - 1813, author, translator and lawyer.

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
In a world of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
Truth is treason in an empire of lies.
George Orwell, 1903 - 1950

from a Jack


October 2016

the painter transformed
by papist patronage

to a King

"I should scarcely have believed all these things if he had not been dressed in very fine clothing
and moreover he was wearing a very well-made wig.
Merely by looking at him one could see that he was short of nothing."
Letter about the Elder van de Velde, from Pieter Blaeu, in Holland, 1674.

Try a little genealogical research.

Increasingly, I have grown inclined to think of British art history, up to, say, 1900 AD,
as an empire of lies.

May I invite any haphazard readers of these lines to visit the obituary for Peter Monamy, scanned in from The London Gazetteer of 9th February, 1749, and then return to this page ? Incidentally, The London Gazetteer was founded in 1748. See London Newspapers in the Age of Walpole, by Michael Harris, 1987, page 49. It's worth noting that the obituary was presumably not read by George Vertue or Horace Walpole; or, if so, was immediately shut out of their minds.

Art history is not history, but the smug perpetuation of self-regarding "taste". As every culture vulture knows, a work of art is "adapted to sustain aesthetic contemplation in a suitably trained and prepared observer." So, are you suitably trained and prepared ?

Prior to 1980 almost all the published statements about Monamy consisted of guesswork, supposition and prejudice, unsupported by any insight or research. There are one or two exceptions, but these exceptions do not include the contemporary notes of George Vertue, which contain multiple errors The statements made on this page, and website, have been preceded by dedicated and relatively rigorous research, beginning in 1979.

Eighty years ago Callender was parrotting Walpole's edited re-write of Vertue, and Walpole's views (deceptive denigration of Monamy, extravagant praise of Scott and unbridled worship of van de Velde), still hold sway with the average, unquestioning, art historian. Obeisance to van de Velde remains the approved party line, it would appear. See previous page.

Fashion is fickle. Remember the Redgraves in 1866: "Scott ..... was indeed a good draftsman, and painted some tolerable topographical views, as well as marine pieces, but his works do not show any original treatment; they are now little known or esteemed." The Redgraves also reduce the van de Veldes to size: "two foreigners, the Vandeveldes, found much employment under the last two sovereigns of the Stuart family, and fostered a few pupils and followers". The Stuarts, and good King Charles's golden days, were not admired in 1866. Or 1841.

I seem to have got distracted. The intention on this page was to concentrate on Horace Walpole's enigmatic Sermon in his Ędes Walpolianæ, and the topic of Roman Catholic paintings in the collections of nominal English Protestants, as intriguingly raised by Clare Haynes in Pictures and Popery, 2006. Here it is worth recalling Macaulay's remark that "none but an unhealthy and disorganised mind could have produced such literary luxuries as the works of Walpole." Horace's Sermon certainly takes some decoding. It's daunting to wrestle with. I feel like giving up.

Shiploads of dead Christs, Holy Families, Madonnas, and other dismal, dark subjects.

The effort must be made. Back to the theme originally intendeded. Although Clare Haynes clearly does not consider marine painting to be art, her book is interesting, and despite her omission of any mention of this truly popular Protestant art genre, I must try to dredge up some of her appropriate observations. I should also attempt to link her remarks with those made by Jane Clark, in her essay in Lord Burlingon: Architecture, Art and Life, 1995, entitled "Lord Burlington is here". As well as complementary remarks by other authors in that compilation.

Burlington first, 1695-1753. During his lifetime Burlington was the dominant arbiter of fine art in Britain. His legacy has lasted from the time of his demise until, virtually, the present. It is hardly possible to doubt, from the contents of the book edited by Barnard and Clark, that he was also a slippery crypto-Catholic masonic Jacobite. His age saw the birth of that particularly British brand of humour, namely irony, which consists of stating, in enthusiastic terms, the exact opposite of what is meant. Any expression of honest belief, in those days, risked construction as treachery. It was always possible, however, that the times would alter. Nearly everybody had a finger in several pies, in the interest of self-preservation. Hogarth and Monamy not included.

Some quotes from the book on Burlington. P xxiii. Burlington could hardly be politically neutral .... but his political record is too enigmatic to make his response clear. P 202. In 1715, Burlington, as Lord Lieutenant of York, at a dinner in October, gave a speech beginning "A confusion to the Pretender, and all his adherents and to all his open and secret friends". One of his deputies, Sir Walter Hawksworth, then set free all the Jacobite prisoners on bail. Burlington had personally appointed Hawksworth. Following a duplicitous letter, he then first dismissed him, and later reinstated him. P 215. Adhering to Walpole from 1717 to 1733 .... The interest he took in Jacobites may be a clue to the hidden sympathies of a man who was also intensely secretive. P 218. In the wake of the 1715 Jacobite rebellion .... Pope and his family had to .... live in Chiswick 'under the wing of my Lord Burlington'. P 253. Because of his carefully created image of aesthete and arbiter of taste .... his 1714 interest in forts and fortifications has passed unnoticed. P 292. Great Britain was the Promised Land and London Jerusalem. The Jacobites were the exiled Israelites. P 309. The intentional ambiguity of the Jacobites .... has misled even the most rigorous scholars. Conclusive written proof is a bonus that seldom, if ever surfaces.

Now for Pictures and Popery. Clare Haynes discusses Horace Walpole's Sermon on pages 83-91. Page 85. The piece is notably anti-Catholic .... Walpole is concerned to mark out ... the idolatry of the Roman Catholic Church from the spectatorship of its art by Protestants. P 84. Walpole was trying, I believe, to develop a specifically and theoretically cogent Protestant approach to art in the Sermon. The Sermon also contributes to the overall purpose of the Aedes .... in a rather elaborate comparison of celebrating Sir Robert to Moses: 'see the Great Moses himself ! The Lawgiver, the Defender, the Preserver of Israel'.

It occurs to me that Horace, his Catholic heritage unforgotten, doth his Protestantism too much protest. Jane Clark: "The Jacobites were the exiled Israelites". Horace was not trying, I believe, to develop what Clare Haynes believes he was. In 1742 he was still creating a semi-smokescreen. By March 1758, or Christmas 1759 at the latest, he must have noticed which way the wind was blowing, and trimmed his sails accordingly.


Hogarth's verdict on Burlington's protégé
William Kent, 1685-1748

Kent's career began as a sign and coach painter. A group of Yorkshire gentlemen sent Kent for a period of study in Rome, and he set sail on 22 July 1709 from Deal, Kent, arriving at Livorno on 15 October. By 18 November he was in Florence, staying there until April 1710 before finally setting off for Rome. He met several important figures including Thomas Coke, later 1st Earl of Leicester, with whom he toured Northern Italy in the summer of 1714, and Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni in Rome, for whom he apparently painted some pictures, though no records survive. The most significant meeting was between Kent and Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington. Kent left Rome for the last time in the autumn of 1719, met Lord Burlington briefly at Genoa, Kent journeying on to Paris, where Lord Burlington later joined him for the final journey back to England before the end of the year. As a painter, he displaced Sir James Thornhill in decorating the new staterooms at Kensington Palace, London; for Burlington, he helped to decorate Chiswick House, especially the painted ceilings, and Burlington House. In his own age, Kent's fame and popularity were so great that he was employed to give designs for all things, even for ladies' birthday dresses. These and other absurdities drew upon him the satire of William Hogarth who, in October 1725, produced a Burlesque on Kent's Altarpiece at St. Clement Danes, left.


By 1734, or possibly 1733, Sir Robert Walpole was clearly perceived as the Vicar of Bray,
the model for all British political trimmers up to the present day.

From The British Musical Miscellany, Volume I, 1734.
Sir Robert Walpole: nailed.

See also here. And here.

Father Henry Walpole; the Jesuit martyr.

slavish ----- a word to conjure with !

A curriculum vitæ for Peter Monamy: see here.

British art history has been grotesquely and mendaciously distorted over the centuries since 1750 by self-regarding arbiters of taste. The Courtaulds, dedicated Huguenot refugees, must be turning in their graves. Roy Strong, in The Spirit of Britain, a narrative history of the arts, 1999, makes this supremely fatuous assertion: "The landscape looms large, and yet ironically England's economic greatness was owed to the sea, to maritime endeavour, but there is no great literature of the sea, nor great school of marine painters."

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath, nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

The Ancient Mariner

Sir Roy, via William Camden, also "firmly located the country's cultural roots as the civilisation of Rome." The country's roots, cultural and otherwise, are actually firmly located in what Jordanes called the womb of nations.

Homer also nods, alas. Errors in The Call of the Sea, 2009, an exhibition catalogue, are too ghastly to overlook or ignore. See pp 26, 55, and, a lesser one, p 51. The infection, though inexcusable, was caught from Cockett, Peter Monamy, 2000, p 66. Its nature may be detected by those interested.

monamy website index
john wood             m.w.knott
harry parker's work of fiction
chronology 1680-1754: published 1983
masters of maritime art
from a jack to a king
eminent experts
howlers and bloomers
extra errors
monamy & orthodoxy
british art history 1   monamy explained   british art history 2

© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2016
all rights reserved


monamy website index
a bout de souffle 28
a bout de souffle 23
monamy explained


© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2016
all rights reserved