From The Englishness of English Art, by Nikolaus Pevsner, Peregrine/Penguin 1988, p 29

Pevsner on Thornhill

It is probably no more than slightly unfortunate that in my edition of Pevsner's stimulating book the preparatory drawing by Thornhill for the Landing of the Prince of Orange at Torbay [1688] is captioned The Landing of George I at Greenwich [1714]. The two events, though 26 years apart, were more or less the same thing. Both were Whig-driven, water-borne affirmations of the resolve of the majority of Englishmen that their country was to be a Protestant haven, dedicated to constitutional government, and steadfastly opposed to the perceived tyrannies of France, Spain and Rome.

From conception to finished product: as usual, the sketch now seems better than the final picture

Sir James Thornhill: Sketch for a painting representing The Landing of George I at Greenwich, 1714. British Museum, London.

Above is the sketch as it appears, correctly, in The Englishness of English Art: BBC Reith Lectures: an illustrated guide. This is a pamphlet prepared in May 1955, to accompany Pevsner's original series of talks "broadcast weekly from 16 October to 27 November, 1955". Thornhill's annotated drawing for the arrival of George I differs greatly from the final grisaille in the Painted Hall.

From conception to finished product

"Note, the upper end of the hall where the royal family is painted, was left chiefly to the pencil of Mr Andrea a foreigner, after the payment originally agreed upon for the work was so much reduced, as made it not worth Sir James's while to finish the whole with his own more masterly hand." Paulson notes of Andrea: "Dietrich Ernst, a Pole, c 1680-1734?" Hogarth: Analysis of Beauty, 1753, ed 1997, p 92.


Victoria Navales
Classe Hisp: deleto 1588
Classe Coll: Capt & incense: ad La Hogue 1692
Capta & Incensa Galli & Hisp: ad Vigum 1702
Calpe expug: & Galli: vict: 1704
Barcelona expug: 1705
Liberata & Galli fug: 1706
Classe Gallica fugata ad Fretum Edenburg: 1707
Sardinia & Balearis minor capta 1708
Classe Hisp: delata ad Oros Sicilia 1718

The leap from 1588 to 1692 omits Stuart rule; but also the Interregnum, and the victories of Blake. At this period Thornhill presumably considered it circumspect to avoid stirring memories of Cromwell and the Protectorate, solving the problem by omitting any reference to this painful period. Any reminiscences of conflict with the Dutch are also swept away. Discomfiture of Spain and France, as well as the pretensions of the Pretender, on the other hand, are recorded with relish.

When visiting the Hall in the company of an academic colleague, he expressed puzzlement over the reference to Edinburgh. A forgotten episode, considered of signal importance at the time.

See also here.

the painted hall
thornhill marine drawings
exceptional marine paintings
1652-1698         1697-1727
calms, calms, calms
monamy site index


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