but see here


Heading this page are what have been believed to be Brooking's earliest known paintings, allegedly a pair, 10 x 12: The Burning Ship and Moonlight. (September 2013: the Moonlight painting is now said to have been painted after 1803. A wonderfully ludicrous assertion made in The Wars of the Barbary Pirates, published in 2006. Page 65.) The burning ship canvas is signed C.Brooking pinxit aged 17 years. Below them are two little paintings hanging on the background wall in the Monamy and Walker conversation piece, datable to 1729-1731: The Burning Ship and Moonlight.The suggestion here is that the Marque Monamy is being indicated with these little pictures: fire and light. Light is discussed here, and fire, next page.

The hypothesis developed on this and other pages is that Brooking was a frequent visitor to the Monamy studio from about 1735 until Monamy's death in 1749. He may have initially attended as a pupil and assistant. Later there was perhaps some commercial arrangement whereby occasional Brooking works were sold as Monamy in return for use of materials and facilities. Monamy had the means of distribution, although Monamy's outlets later proved less than satisfactory. Both the aging Monamy and the young Brooking seem to have been exploited by dealers and print sellers.


The only evidence for this theory is anecdotal, and in the paintings themselves, since there is no documentary record. But I will assume the theory to be fact.

Compare the moon's light on water in the details, left. Brooking saw the Monamy painting, r, when he started work in the studio in 1736, aged 13. For his first signed canvas, 1739-40, he followed the Monamy style, l. Very soon this rather unrealistic rendering changed significantly to a more naturalistic manner and palette. Monamy must have changed earlier.

One of the characteristics of Monamy is a softness of treatment, especially in some of the sunsets and sunrises. This is also apparent in early Brooking, before, as David Joel has remarked, his paintings took on an almost enamel-like hardness, particularly noticeable in the water of his later pictures, insofar as they are datable.




To the left, the upper picture is signed Brooking. The one below it is very probably a duplicate by Brooking, or just possibly a copy by another painter. Below these two is a painting signed Monamy, 12 x 18, which has also been discussed in connection with the Mellon catalogue, 1963, here.

These paintings are, to my mind, indubitably related. The question is, which came first? Was Brooking emulating the Monamy interest in the fall of light, and the sunset theme, or did Monamy sign Brooking's picture? If the latter, then all three canvases must be well after the signed and dated first Brookings of circa 1740. An alternative is that the Monamy marque was simply added by a person unknown, perhaps the nefarious dealer, in order to sell more readily.

The Brooking is worth looking at again, more closely. The softness certainly signals that it is early for Brooking, ie before about 1748. A beautiful picture, if slightly candy box.

Sunset. A ship-rigged Royal Yacht in a light air with another yacht and a cutter.
9½ x 14¾. Signed C.Brooking. Joel p.59.

The sun's a thief, and with his great attraction
Robs the vast sea; the moon's an arrant thief,
And her pale fire she snatches from the sun;
The sea's a thief, whose liquid surge resolves
The moon into salt tears .....


      Charles Brooking, 1723-1759, marine painter and hero

From the Monamy & Walker conversation piece c 1730

chronology & authenticity
brooking: early years

A Likely Story
from Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection
Sotheby's 18th November 1981

brooking & monamy: fire       brooking & monamy: light
brooking & monamy: storms      brooking & monamy: various
monamy & brooking & van de velde: a squadron beating to windward
monamy & brooking & van de velde & south foreland & the downs

monamy & brooking & ireland?
monamy: à bout de souffle
monamy moonlight oils
a century of moonlight
monamy website index

© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2003, 2013
all rights reserved