Engraving by Sutton Nicholls, published c 1710. From London Bridge by Peter Jackson; p.44


Decorating - Signpainting - Shopkeeping

On page 56 of London Bridge, 1971, Peter Jackson notes that the block of housing shown above was built in the late 17th century. In 1710 it would have been about 20 years old. However, the cantons in the flags of the ships depicted in the Sutton Nicholls engraving suggest that the original picture was produced before 1707, so it may be a little earlier than the 1710 proposed by Jackson. The rendering of the shipping brings Sailmaker to mind, but, who knows? Perhaps it was drawn by Monamy.

At present my guess is that Monamy lived in one of these houses during his early years. His daughter Margaret by his first wife, also called Margaret, was born in 1706 and baptized in St Olave's. On Rocque's map of 1746, left, the bridge houses are shown in the upper red box, and St Olave's in the lower box. The views on this page are taken roughly in the direction of the blue arrow.

Monamy's children by Hannah Christopher, however: Andrew, Hannah and another Andrew, were born in 1708, 1710 and 1712, and were baptized at St Botolph's, and St Mary's, Whitechapel. I used to suspect that they were born in Hannah's parental home, perhaps Red Lyon Alley, off the Minories, in the same neighbourhood as Peter's mother, Dorothy.

But, perhaps, after 1706 Monamy was no longer domiciled on London Bridge, and merely kept his shop there, while he and his family lived elsewhere. After 1708 it would seem that he lived in Red Lyon Street, which ran south from Whitechapel. It still seems reasonable to suppose that he continued to display his paintings on the Bridge until he moved to Westminster, which I assume would have been by about 1720, at the latest. In 1716 Thornhill had been appointed Governor of Kneller's painting academy, and it also seems to me probable that Monamy attended this academy, occasionally.

The engraving below was published about 1751. There had been a fire in 1725, well after Monamy had moved to Westminster, and the houses and the Great Stone Gateway at the southern end were rebuilt in 1728. The bow windows mentioned by Home are more clearly defined in the engraving, and the wash drawing further below.

"by constant practice he distinguisht himself and came into reputation"

Home noted that another "artist who at one time had his home on the Bridge was John Laguerre, the son of Louis Laguerre. He was born in London and lived on the first floor of a house on the east side of the Bridge close to the Southwark Cathedral. .... Laguerre's studio is described as being in a bow-windowed room projecting over the water, which trembled when the flow of the river came with its full force through the arches. It was stated by (Pyne) that Hogarth had in his young days lived in this house ..." Pyne's actual words, Vol II, p.135, are "Here Hogarth, in early life, once sojourned, and etched and engraved for old John Bowles, of the Black Horse, Cornhill." See below: there must be a common source for the anecdote about Hogarth.

Lilian and Ashmore Russan, in Old London City, 1924, remark of Hogarth that he "commenced business, 1720. Said to have sold etchings and sketches of London life to Mr Bowles of the Black Horse, Cornhill, by weight --- at half-a-crown a pound." This sounds improbably apocryphal. They do not appear to be quoting Pyne here, however.

Peter Jackson, p.49, is the only writer I have so far discovered who repeats that Hogarth once lived on London Bridge. It may be that this statement occurs first in Chronicles of London Bridge, 1827, by Richard Thompson, whose painstaking research is handsomely acknowledged by Jackson, together with that of Gordon Home.

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Wash drawing c 1750. From London Bridge by Peter Jackson; p.56. This wash appears to be by Samuel Scott.

From Old and New London, 1878, Vol II

The oeuvre for the years 1704 to about 1720 is still problematic. Monamy's painting output until he was over 40 years old remains conjectural.

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Engraving of doubtful date, depicting bridge as it was perhaps circa 1650?


© Charles Harrison Wallace 2004
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