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Canute ordering back the sea

  • Object:


  • Date:

    Late 1750s - early 1760s

  • Artist/Maker:

    Moser, George Michael, born 1706 - died 1783 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and grey ink and brown wash on laid paper.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case M, shelf 39, box I

Physical description

Circular design within a square border. King Canute sits on his throne surrounded by courtiers before the incoming sea. There are ships at sea in the left background and a castle in the right background. There are shells in the right foreground. The design is laid, next to a similar design E.636-1998 by George Michael Moser, onto a nineteenth century backing sheet inscribed 'Moser'.


Late 1750s - early 1760s


Moser, George Michael, born 1706 - died 1783 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and grey ink and brown wash on laid paper.

Marks and inscriptions

Canute ye Dane after ye treacherous murder of Edmund Ironside thereby became Sole monarch of Britain being persuaded by his flatering (sic) Courtiers ty: (sic) even ye Elements were under his Command, to Convince them of their flattery Ordered his Chair to be placed on the Sea Shore, where being Seated in his Robes he commanded ye approaching tide not to wett (sic) the hem of his garment, the water advanced wherefore he Said the Crown he wore was only due to ye Almighty & accordingly deposited it in ye Cathedral of Canterbury, & never wore it after. -
Unknown; English; At the bottom of the piece of paper and beneath the cicular design.; pen; ink


Height: 9 cm Height of piece of paper within which is the circular design., Width: 8.8 cm Width of piece of paper within which is the cicular design.

Object history note

Bought at Sotheby's, 34-35 New Bond Street, London W1A 2AA on April 8, 1998, lot 24.

Historical significance: This and E.636-1998 are the are the only examples in Moser's work (graphic or executed) of British historical scenes.

Historical context note

The subject of this design, King Canute ordering back the sea, concerns kingship suggesting that it was made in the late 1750s or early 1760s when the accession of George III (1760-1820) was inspiring great interest .

Descriptive line

Circular design, in pen and ink and wash on laid paper, for gold chasing or enamel painting by George Michael Moser, late 1750s or early 1760s.


Laid paper



Subjects depicted

Shields (armor); Body armour


BEACH Scenes


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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