Monamy 2: 30 x 57; signed, oil on canvas, in a finely carved giltwood frame

Auction catalogue comment: "A Hanoverian Yacht and her escorting ships hove to off the Eddystone Lighthouse, possibly for a Royal visit. A positive identification of the yacht is extremely difficult given that the same basic design was common to most royal yachts of the period. What is of more interest, however, is the view of the lighthouse. Built of wood by John Rudyard and completed in 1709, it was the second lighthouse to be erected on the Eddystone Rock and was in use until destroyed by fire in 1755. Whereas the famous first and third structures, built by Henry Winstanley and John Smeaton respectively, are well-known from contemporary illustrations, surviving pictures of Rudyerd's tower are very rare." See Sailmaker, here.

Since this painting features a Hanoverian yacht and flags it has to have been produced at least five years after the completion of Rudyerd's tower in 1709. There are just sufficient reasons for thinking it may have been commissioned in about 1715 or 1716, or even later. The rather florid manner in which the ships are painted is somewhat reminiscent of some of the many representations of the arrival of George I, which would have kept Monamy's brush busy for the years from 1714 until the accession of George II in 1727. Enthusiasm for the Hanoverian monarchy started to decline after the arrival of the second George, and a steadily increasing political opposition formed around the person of Frederick, Prince of Wales, his heir. From about 1725-27 Monamy's painting style seems to have undergone a discernible change. The two things are not directly related, but it is a fact nevertheless that after about 1729 Monamy ceased to produce paintings celebrating the Hanoverians.


The elaborate and detailed print to the left announces that the light first shone in Rudyard's tower on 28th July 1708, and that the work was "completely finished in 1709". My copy of the more crude engraving, 7 x 9, above, is marked in pencil: "The original print --- Very scarce". I suspect it was produced quite soon after the work was finished, but have not yet discovered the name of the engraver, who appears to have marked his identity with a W at the bottom right-hand corner of the text.

In fact, the left-hand work appears to be rarer still, and is considerably larger, measuring 23¾ x 16½. This is more expensive work, and since it announces that This Prospect is most humbly Dedicated by J. Rudyerd, Gent may have been commissioned by the architect himself, perhaps at his own expense, and would have had fairly small circulation. It also bears the inscriptions B.Lens delin and J.Sturt sculp, to the right and left of the dedication. According to Clayton, Lens and Sturt first set up their school for apprentices and young engravers in 1697. By about 1711 the school appears to have been superseded by Kneller's Great Queen Street Academy, which suggests that this print was executed at about the same time.

Click here for enlargement of the Lens/Sturt print.

Click here for the Eddystone Lighthouse Act 1705.

The renderings of Rudyard's lighthouse in the two prints, and in a painting attributed to Sailmaker, below and above, vary considerably, but the background compositions of the shipping are obviously related. The large print identifies four of the ships as the Roe Buck, 42; Charles Galley, 36; Swallow Prize, 32; and Albrow, 24; ordered to defend Rudyard and his workmen. Monamy, however, has adapted van de Velde's alleged composition in all three of his paintings.

Monamy appears to have followed the depiction of the lighthouse in the Lens/Sturt print fairly closely, except for the very noticeable narrowing and elongation of the tower. There is considerable variation of the light windows surmounting the structure in all of its six depictions, including surprising differences even between the images on the same Lens/Sturt engraving. The smaller image has five tiers of windows, the larger has six. The engraving at right, below, is probably the most accurate, and would have been published for Smeaton.

winstanley's lighthouse 1: M1
winstanley's lighthouse 1: M3
winstanley's lighthouse 2
smeaton's lighthouse

See here for Rudyard's lighthouse by Sailmaker and others.

John Rudyard was provided with more effective protection than Henry Winstanley. Alison Barnes relates, in Henry Winstanley, that: "In June, 1697 .... a French privateer with thirty armed men partially destroyed the lighthouse, set the workmen adrift in the longboat, after first stripping them naked, and took Winstanley back to St.Malo as a captive; although he was speedily released by King Louis XIV." He was supposed to have been guarded by the Terrible man of war. The Admiralty reprimand below is quoted by W.H.Wood, in The House in the Sea.

An Admiralty Letter

The Board are surprised to heare of the Enginer who was erecting a Light House on the Eddystone being taken away by a French Boate and carryed to France, and the more soo because the order sent you relateing to this matter particularly directed that they should have the assistance of the
Terrible guardshipp, together with her boates and men, when she was not employed on other necessary services, not only for carrying off and bringing the workmen a shore, but for defending them from any attempts which might be made on them; and it is the direction of their Lordshipps that you doe let them know how it comes to pass that these people had not a sufficient strength to defend them from the enemy according to the said orders, and you having been short in the relation of this unhappy accident, the Board would have you informe yourself, as well as possibly you can, how this whole matter happened and give them a particular account there of.

miscellaneous lighthouses
lighthouse paintings composition

monamy website index


A later print of Rudyard's tower by W.H.Toms: probably 1738


© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2004, 2013
all rights reserved