Victory leaving the Channel, 1793. Unsigned 35 x 49
Can this painting possibly be by Monamy Swaine ?


Only son of Francis Swaine and Mary Monamy

born 1753/4; died ?
Grandson of Peter Monamy

Paintings by, or attributed to, Monamy Swaine. Click.

Although the basic research conclusively proving Francis Swaine's extremely close association with Peter Monamy was published over 30 years ago, it seems that untold additional decades will have to pass before the truth will be acknowledged. See here.

Before getting to grips with the pictures that may or may not be attributable to Monamy Swaine, I feel it is best to make very clear his descent, or in other words, his ancestry.

Above are two documents which establish beyond any shadow of a doubt that Francis Swaine did not first work as a Navy Messenger, and then become a marine painter. In obvious fact, the marine painter's father, also named Francis Swaine, married to Ann Joel, applied to become a messenger after 28 years in the navy, and held the job for twenty years, 1735-1755, until he died, and was, presumably, succeeded by John James.

The following two confusing, conflicting accounts were both culled from the NMM website, on 15th January 2018:

Quote: "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."

Quote: "Swaine, Francis, was a marine painter, regularly displaying works at the Society of Artists of Great Britain and the Free Society of Artists from 1761 to his death. He was much influenced by Peter Monamy who also taught him for some time and he married Monamy's daughter, Mary, in 1749. Their second son [?!?], Monamy Swaine became a good marine painter as well, though also did other subjects. Various reference works have confused Francis Swaine with another man of the same name who was an official Messenger for the Navy, and suggested this was how he became a marine artist. However, it is now clear that this official and namesake died in 1755."

Heartening to see that a minimal contribution to the history of marine painting, albeit unrecognised and unacknowledged, has finally trickled through. However, it is also perfecly clear that this "official and namesake" was the marine painter's father, which is not to say that, although a navy messenger, he did not occupy himself from time to time with "little labours in drawing". The picture below can conceivably be suggested as the work of the navy messenger, Francis Swaine Senior. Scrutinise signature. Attribution doubtful.

NMM. PAF5777.

Next it becomes necessary to correct one of the most ludicrous errors imaginable to have crept into the literature about Monamy and the Swaines. The passage excerpted below comes from an article that was published in 1981. It is now 2018. The years go by as quickly as a wink. Enjoy yourself.

It might be supposed that anyone anywhere, of moderate or even average intelligence, on reading the words "Their second child, a boy", would, without great mental strain, have deduced that the couple's first child was a girl. But no. The assertion that Francis and Mary Swaine had two sons, has, beyond all credibility, entered the literature, in the ODNB, 2004, Spreading Canvas, published 2016, and the NMM, 2018, quoted above. Spreading Canvas also manages to misquote Vertue, the most useful co-temporary source. Swaine's work, it is now allowed, 2018, has its own distinct originality.

Finally, here is what the NMM, 15 Jan 2018, has to say about Monamy Swaine, quote: "Monamy Swaine (active 1769-93) was an English painter, whose father, Francis (circa 1720-80), was himself a successful and prolific marine painter, as was his maternal grandfather Peter Monamy (1681-1749), after whom he was named. It is likely that Monamy Swaine was taught by his father, whose influence is clearly detectable in his work. Despite this background, Monamy Swaine did not limit himself to seascapes, also producing still-life and genre scenes. The first documented record of him is at the 1769 exhibition of the Free Society of Artists, in which he is described as 'Mr. Swaine Junior', giving rise to scholarly speculation that he might have been born in the early 1750s. In 1771 and 1772 he exhibited two marine paintings at the Free Society of Artists. The National Maritime Museum, London, has four paintings by him. One is dated 1793 and a fifth, generally attributed to him, shows 'Victory leaving the Channel' flying Lord Hood's flag in that year. Both instances suggest a rather longer working life than is often supposed."

Is it really necessary to point out that the first documented record of Francis Swaine, marine painter, also known as Old Swaine, is his baptism at St Dunstan's, Stepney, in 1725, and that his only son Monamy, "Mr Swaine Junior", was baptised at St Dunstan's in 1753/4 ? ? In spite of the "scholarly speculation" about these events ??

What is the origin of those named Swaine ? Or see also here.

Frauncis SWAINE - F Chr: 18 Jan 1606, St. Bride Fleet St., London
Francys SWAYNE - M Chr: 23 Dec 1611, St. Botolph w. Aldgate, London
Francis SWAIN - M Birth: about 1621 London
Francis SWAN - M Christening: 9 Sep 1649 Stepney, Saint Dunstan, London
Francis SWAINE - M Chr: 4 Apr 1691 St. Bride Fleet St., London

Francis SWAIN - M Chr: 22 Jun 1719 St.Botolph without Aldgate, London
Francis SWAINE - M Chr: 7 Oct 1725 Stepney, Saint Dunstan, 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 Swaine Genealogy.

Allhallows was a church associated, to an extent, with City dignitaries. Mary Monamy may have married there by virtue of her parentage. Swaine must otherwise have been a parishioner of St Dunstan's, Stepney, at least until 1754. He is said to have lived later in Strutton Ground, Westminster, and then Chelsea.

A south west prospect of St Dunstan's church at Stepney in 1755

old swaine from young will
swaine one; two; three
swaine's apprenticeship
more swaine
swaine miscellanea
royal escape attribution
swaine genealogy
swaine & van de velde
prints after swaine
See here for gravely mistaken assertion by the V&A
monamy website index
site introduction

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