16 x 24

conversation piece: c 1731?

Night & A Ship on Fire

print 1745/46; late colouring

print ? curious differences: smack right

monamy pinxt swaine delint: 1794 [1750]

print 1745/46; early colouring

mezzotint by sympson; before 1736

The rare green mezzotint, above, is inscribed: P.Monamy pinxt Josephus Sympson Junr Fecit Sold at Js Sympson's, at the Dove in Russell Court in Drury Lane. Walpole has this to say: "JOSEPH SIMPSON was very low in his profession, cutting arms on pewter plates, 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."

William T.Whitley, in Artists & their Friends in England, 1928, instructively exposes Walpole's inveterate condescension, and selective manipulation of Vertue's even-handed notes.

monamy oil 16 x 24: close detail

As mentioned on another page, the proliferation of these images of burning ships cannot entirely have been due to the incendiary tastes of the painter's patrons. Although they do admittedly hold a certain fascination, the simplest explanation for them is that they were exercises for students, as a latter-day aspirant to painting in oils might be recommended to try his/her hand at painting a white egg set against a sheet of paper. It is possible the compositions by Brooking and Swaine, below, are samples of their training. The collection of six Burning Ships, oil on canvas, on page two, although all signed Monamy, do not, in my eyes, seem to be by the same hand. Did the boss sell the work of his pupils as his own, in lieu of payment for instruction, and supply of time, space and materials?

signed: C. Brooking pinxit aged 17 years [ie about 1740]
This painting was paired with another: Moonlight

For more burning ships by Brooking, see here.
and here

swaine: oil on copper

the burning ship two
a picture factory ?
monamy website index

  hand-coloured print 1745/46:       original oil: detail for comparison

a burning ship by van de velde



© Charles Harrison Wallace 2001, 2003
all rights reserved