enigma variations i

A. 30 x 25, unsigned, ascribed T.Leemans, see Cockett p.111

Thomas (?) Leemans
Compositions featuring the Royal Standard

The first appearance of a painting displaying the basic arrangement of shipping examined in the sequence of eight compositions, A, B, C, C1, D, E, F, G, on this page is, to my knowledge, picture B below, auctioned in 1972 and attributed to Monamy. The name Thomas Leemans doesn't seem to appear in anything written about the marine genre before about 1980, although I haven't read everything. Painting D, below, attributed to Leemans, was auctioned in 1982. The catalogue note remarks "For further information on the artist see E.H.H.Archibald, A Dictionary of Sea Painters, 1980, p.131."

Archibald's entry, in full, reads: "Surviving paintings signed 'T.Leemans' show him to have been a follower of Willem van de Velde II, in the generation of Peter Monamy. Known examples date to around 1720; though inferior to Monamy they have a finished, glossy quality. One distinctive feature is his tendency to exaggerate the sparring of his ships, particularly the length of the yards." No illustration or other information is supplied, and it is not possible to tell how many paintings Archibald's summary is based on. Personally, I would date these paintings to some time after, possibly well after, Monamy's death.

B. 32¾ x 49¼, Sotheby 13/12/72, lot 139, ascribed to Monamy

The wonderfully inventive lot description reads: "The King boarding the Flagship from the Royal Barge, the Fleet firing the Salute beyond."

C. dimensions unknown, perhaps 32 x 44, ascription unknown, presumed unsigned

C1. very close variant of C above, recently ascribed to Leemans
Formerly attributed to Monamy; dimensions 39¾ x 50, and described as
"The Royal Yacht Augusta off Harwich: George II returning from Hanover"

C2. apparently another variant of C above, Sotheby 10 December 2009
Said to be signed lower centre: P. Monamy/ pinx; dimensions 42.5" x 37.6"
Described as "British Men of war at anchor with the Royal George firing a salute"

Curious dimensions.

D. 25 x 30 auctioned as T.Leemans, 19/11/1982, lot 61

B     C     D

A     B     C
Picture A, and the detail from B, though extraordinarily close, do not appear to be exactly identical

A     E     F

E. dimensions and ascription unknown, on art market pre-1980

F. 41 x 51, ascribed to Monamy, presumed unsigned. A catalogue note says:
possibly the Royal William ..... rebuilt in 1692. The standard of Queen Anne
indicates that the queen was visiting the ship.

G. 30 x 41. Unsigned. Attributed to Monamy.
Auctioned Sotheby 31 March 1999
See here for more variations on this composition.

This is the same painting, attributed in different sources to Monamy and Leemans.
It has also been attributed to Swaine.

?     ?     ?

more leemans enigmas

Signed T.Leemans. Sotheby's. Cockett, p.108

royal occasions:     starboard quarters     port quarters
royal sovereign composition types:     one     two     relatively tall/narrow
royal sovereign composition types:     a. starboard     b. port     broad
royal occasions:     calm waters     fresh winds
calms, calms, calms
more leemans enigmas
monamy site index

© Charles Harrison Wallace 2003, 2011
all rights reserved