"Signatures don't mean much" --- M.S.Robinson, circa 1981-83

similar compositions: two

I discovered this painting on a visit to Jersey, for which I was handsomely thanked by Michael Robinson. It is no doubt amply covered in his opus, which I will check in due course, but meanwhile, in the note he gave me at the time, Michael said that it was possibly by The Younger, perhaps painted in 1703, and represented Prince George returning to the Royal Yacht in 1702. This comment leads me to suspect that the painting of the Royal Sovereign near Rochester Castle, believed to be unsigned but attributed to Monamy, may represent the same specific occasion, and further to suppose that, if it is his, he could have painted it at any time during the reign of Queen Anne, 1702-1714. Prince George of Denmark was the consort of Queen Anne.

Both paintings show the yacht flying the royal standard. If Prince George was returning to it in the Velde painting, then he may have reached it in the Monamy attribution.

This painting is attributed to Robert Woodcock, 1692-1728, in Archibald's Dictionary of Sea Painters, 1980, plate 157. The stern is of the Royal William, not the Royal Sovereign, but otherwise the picture is compositionally very closely based on the Younger's 1704 painting, with virtually all the minor shipping detail similarly, though not identically, positioned. Archibald gives no dimensions, but says it is small, p.203.

The painting at right first appears in my records advertised for sale by the Rupert Preston Gallery, probably during the 1970s, where it is described as "crew boarding a flagship", signed Monamy, 35 x 22.

At a Christie's auction, 22/11/74, its dimensions were given as 34 x 23. There are at least two archival negatives for it at A.C.Cooper & Co, so it may also have appeared at another auction some time before about 1982.


Both these paintings are exceptionally tall and narrow, although trimmed here for convenient viewing. The left one measures 39¼ x 24¼, and the right one 35 x 22. They do not fit well with the sequence of undeniably authentic canvases established chronologically on the nine pages starting here. But they do bear Monamy signatures. It is virtually hopeless to try to reach any firm conclusion without seeing all these paintings side by side, in the actual flesh. Colour reproduction is unreliable, and nothing lies like the camera. Some day a forensic kit will be developed, telling us not only the chemical ingredients of the painter's palette, but precisely which colours he was using when. What a horrible shock this will be to the art world.

Press on, to consider a variant of this basic composition, starting with the picture below.

click on picture for more torture

royal occasions:     calm waters     fresh winds
royal occasions:     port quarters     starboard quarters
royal sovereign composition types:     one     two     relatively tall/narrow
royal sovereign composition types:     a. starboard     b. port     broad

calms, calms, calms
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© Charles Harrison Wallace 2003, 2007
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