ascribed to monamy

enigma variations ii

ascribed to leemans, monamy and swaine: different paintings, of course
see also here for swaine/leemans

Thomas ? Leemans
Other Compositions

In Peter Monamy and His Circle, p.108, F.B.Cockett characterizes Leemans as "enigmatic", an adjective which brooks no argument. Cockett remarks that "In a group of seventeen pictures seen by the author over the last twenty years only one was signed. All seventeen were flat calms and were fairly identical compositions --- stern view of a major ship, possibly a small 'hoy' beached in the foreground ... Nearly all his pictures appearing in salerooms are catalogued as 'Peter Monamy'." Mr Cockett also almost concludes inescapably "that this artist may well have been one of Monamy's assistants for a short period".

It occurs to me that here we have a painter of whom it might truly be said, to quote the Oxford Dictionary of Art, and the Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea, that his work "is meticulous in style and has little variety;" a painter who "excelled at calms" and "never departed from the van de Velde tradition." We also have a painter who amply exemplifies the patently ludicrous but widespread misconception that a painting which depicts a ship purportedly from the 1720s, or even the 1710s, must itself have been painted in the 1720s.

I lack the gimlet eye of the expert connoisseur, but these paintings look to me like pretty skilful pastiches, masquerading, perhaps for the last two hundred years, perhaps for the last forty-five, as works by the famous sea-painter, Peter Monamy, who was fitted by his apprenticeship, and lolling out of his window over the river Thames, "to imitate the turbulence of the ocean". A theory is starting to form in the heads of the cynical, as an art-historical hack might report, that Leemans was a painter who flourished in the undergrowth well after Monamy was dead. He studied the mezzotints and prints after other famous masters of paintings in this manner, partially reproduced the ambience of a bygone age, and struck a lode in the market among those who wanted to shell out for a certain kind of marine picture, some of whom may have thought they were buying a Monamy, or even a Scott. When did he live? Early to mid-19th century? Or could it be that T.Leemans is still with us? Is there any owner out there who would care to offer his canvas for ultra-violet meta-chemical examination and analysis? The questions need to be answered.

no dimensions; unsigned; ascribed T.Leemans; see Cockett p.110 Christie's

is this the same painting? Christie's 15/11/1968, lot 47; 25 x 39
ascribed to Peter Monamy, dimensions also recorded as 28½ x 43
presumably, therefore, not the same painting, but a dead ringer

23½ x 38¼, Christie's 21/5/03, lot 524, initialled FS, auctioned as Francis Swaine
in 1980 this painting was ascribed to Peter Monamy; Christie's 11/4/80, lot 12

This colourful group of paintings, linked by manner, palette and composition, is not the only such enclave of canvases doubtfully attributed to Monamy, some bearing signatures. Perhaps, in time, we'll root them out. Most of the evidence is that Monamy was quite a naïve painter, but it is useful to remember that Vertue emphasised "his neatness and clean pencilling of sky and water", and his "many excursions towards the Coasts and seaports of England".

Leemans in situ, 2007

All three of the above have been attributed to Monamy

53 x 71. Attributed to Leemans. Christie's May 16, 2007.
First appeared at auction November 23, 2004.


Other paintings ascribed to Leemans

painted before 1707, naturally

any differences? same painting?

this reminds me of something: here

If Leemans worked in anyone's C18th studio, it seems to me more likely Scott's, not Monamy's

signed and dated S.Scott 1729: see Kingzett, Marine E, p.18

under surveillance

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
leemans: prints & oils
leemans enigmas i
monamy site index

© Charles Harrison Wallace 2003, 2013
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