Winds Blowing Right to Left: click here for Left to Right

An East Indiaman. Signed P.Monamy pinxt, 22 x 40¼. Christie's, 11 May 2000, lot 377.

Fresh Gale             Vent Frais

6½ x 10¼. Monamy Pinxt Wilson Sculp..
London Printed for Robt Sayer Map & Printseller opposite Fetter Lane Fleet Street.


Wind Right to Left

Bow Views - Stern Views - Flank Views

57½ x 65; signed P.Monamy lower right

The appearance of the above exceptionally dynamic canvas at auction in November 2007 prompts a return to this unduly long neglected page. The picture's composition strikes me as remarkable, virtually unique, and, although I've grown tired of saying this, quite unlike anything by van de Velde. It also displays everything of the marine genre that is totally absent from the works of Samuel Scott. In fact, it has impressed me as so fine and lively, that I was tempted to query its authorship --- despite the signature, which Robinson cautioned me to be wary of. However, it contains so many traits that I directly associate with Monamy that I cannot doubt its authenticity. Its conception is modern.

Its composition is reminiscent of the East Indiaman in the NMM. It is much more elaborate: so post-dates it?

The basic triangular structure (A) recalls The Signal to Anchor and the twenty degree diagonal slash recalls the composition detail at right, in the strong impression of speed conveyed. The foreground step (D) also recurs. The little vessel (C) would have been criticized by Michael Robinson for its faulty perspective: it is too small; the figures are the same size as in the main 20 gun man-o-war. This is typical of Monamy. There also appears to be a slightly inaccurate angle to the bowsprit (E). Also typical is the close attention to sky (later cloud study has been described as invented by Constable), and sea (introduction of the "selective fall of light" is credited to Turner).


Much taken with the three-dimensional geometrical structures sensed in the background composition of some of these paintings, I wondered if the picture might not be improved by completely removing the rather off-puttingly diminutive sail in the left foreground.

Or perhaps enlarging it? Jury out.

From the remarks and hints conveyed in Hogarth's Analysis of Beauty, I feel sure these topics were bandied about in his St Martin's Lane Academy; and equally certain that Monamy contributed to the discussion. And that he applied these concepts in his own work.

George Vertue wrote, in 1749: Mr Peter Monamy ..... by constant practice he distinguisht himself ..... besides his neatness and clean pencilling of sky and water by many was much esteemd ..... he livd some years latter part of his life at Westminster near the River side, for the Conveniency in some measure of viewing the Water & Sky. tho' he made many excursions towards the Coasts and seaports of England to improve himself from Nature .....

detail from painting below

being developed


Fresh Breezes: Large Ships
wind right to left     wind left to right
gentle breezes right to left

Fresh Breezes: General Introduction

The Lion

Fresh Breezes: Small Ships

Small Ship Types
one: the smaalschip/kaag   two: small ships   three: small ships and yachts

calms, calms, calms

aesthetics       analysis       invention

monamy website index


© Charles Harrison Wallace 2004, 2007
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