Engraved by Fred Shantoon and published May 3, 1740
See here for another print published by Geo.Foster.

Type A

Deplorable and regrettable though the triumphal warmongering of the Londoner of 1740 may now appear to enlightened modern minds, it is instructive to contemplate the past, remembering that the present (whenever that is), if exhibiting certain parallels, is never precisely the same.

According to Charnock, Captain James Rentone was employed at Porto Bello by Vernon because of his prior knowledge of the coast. "Immediately on the reduction of that place, he was promoted to be commander of the Triumph, a Spanish snow found in the harbour." He was also chosen by Vernon to carry the message back to London. "Captain Rentone arrived in London on the 13th of March; and being presented to the king, received not only a present of two hundred guineas, but a promise of further and immediate promotion." Rentone was killed in 1748, when under the command of Admiral Knowles, in the attack on Port Louis. Charnock's account of the character of Knowles is most entertaining.

Kingzett, The Walpole Society 1980-1982, fills in more detail: "After the capture of Chagres Vernon detached Rentone from the Fleet and charged him with the delivery to London of his dispatches for Sir Charles Wager, 1st Lord of the Admiralty. These included a diagram put together by Rentone and Captain Philip Durell of the Burford entitled This Plan of the Harbour, Town and Forts of Porto Bello (Taken by Edward Vernon Esq. Vice Admiral of the Blue on the 22nd of November 1739 with six Men of War only) Drawn by Lieutenant Philip Durell is most Humbly Inscribed to the Rt Honble Sir Charles Wager First Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty: I do abjure the Publick that this Plan is exactly copied from the Original (and only) Drawing brought over by me. Ja Rentone. Published 27 March 1740.

This publication appeared a fortnight after the news broke, when the bells were no doubt still ringing. It does not appear to be a print, the first two of which appeared on 21st and 25th April. That published on the 21st was probably the engraving depicting Durell's plan, 15 x 19, printed for Thomas Bowles, and perhaps the next was the "perspective view", derived from the plan. The earliest imaginative pictorial engraving, however, seems to have been Shantoon's print dated May 3rd, which appears to have had an influence on Monamy. One wonders if Fred Shantoon was a sailor who could draw a bit, who had been present at the momentous occasion, returned as part of Rentone's crew, and determined to cash in rapidly on the public demand. Neither he nor Geo.Foster, at ye White Horse, St Paul's Churchyard, seem to feature in any other publications.

shantoon print

monamy print

type a monamy: painting one

type a monamy: painting two

Based on the above, a conjectural sequence for the production of the above pictures might be Monamy's painting one, somewhat influenced by the Shantoon print with its gigantic ships, followed by the Vauxhall Gardens painting, although the print was not published until 1743. Monamy's painting two, in its depiction of the Iron Fort, seems to have taken some account of the print after Scott, published a year later on 23rd March 1741.

Published by Bowles & Carver, 1743, after Monamy's painting in Vauxhall Gardens

Capture of Porto Bello, by Samuel Scott

w.h.toms after scott 1741

The print by Toms was published 23 March 1741. The version by Chambers, nearly a century later, seems to follow the print just slightly more closely than the painting.

chambers after scott 1838

scott type a

scott type b

monamy type a

monamy type b

All these prints and paintings, including the ones by and after Scott, are aimed directly at the great English public. They owe nothing at all to the van de Veldes, and everything to the traditional skills, ingenuity and invention of the indigenous English sign-painter; read commercial advertising art director; read Peter Monamy. It may not have been fine art, but it was what the public wanted.

type a picture details

porto bello one
battle pages
porto bello picture tiles

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© Charles Harrison Wallace 2003, 2013
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