Not currently on display at the V&A

Vessels at Sea

Oil Painting
late 17th century-1st half 18th century (painted)
Artist/Maker

A sky composed of low-level, greyish cumulous clouds, where the sun is blocked out, and patches of faint, blue sky. A very dark cloud overhead right, casts a shadow across the sea in the foreground. Eye-level, broadside view of a kaag, a type of passenger boat, with a white sprit-sail and brown foresail, ploughing through choppy waters. Two small flags, striped white and red, are of the municipalities of Terschelling and Vlieland. On the right, a British man-of-war, port bow view, with a ‘Union flag’ or ‘Jack’ mounted on its stern jackstaff; on the left, a Dutch ship, port stern view, flying two Dutch flags and three pennants.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief Description
Oil painting, 'Vessels at Sea', Peter Monamy
Physical Description
A sky composed of low-level, greyish cumulous clouds, where the sun is blocked out, and patches of faint, blue sky. A very dark cloud overhead right, casts a shadow across the sea in the foreground. Eye-level, broadside view of a kaag, a type of passenger boat, with a white sprit-sail and brown foresail, ploughing through choppy waters. Two small flags, striped white and red, are of the municipalities of Terschelling and Vlieland. On the right, a British man-of-war, port bow view, with a ‘Union flag’ or ‘Jack’ mounted on its stern jackstaff; on the left, a Dutch ship, port stern view, flying two Dutch flags and three pennants.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 70cm
  • Estimate width: 110cmcm
Dimensions taken from Summary catalogue of British Paintings, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
Signed by the artist in the left corner, 'P. Monamy Pinx'. (Signed by the artist in the left corner.)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend
Object history
Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, 1868



Ref : Parkinson, Ronald, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860. Victoria & Albert Museum, HMSO, London, 1990. p.xix.



'Chauncy Hare Townshend (1798-1868) was born into a wealthy family, only son of Henry Hare Townsend of Busbridge Hall, Godalming, Surrey. Educated at Eton and Trinity Hall, Cambridge (BA 1821). Succeeded to the family estates 1827, when he added 'h' to the Townsend name. He had taken holy orders, but while he always referred to himself as 'Rev.' on the title pages of his books, he never practised his vocation... . Very much a dilettante in the eighteenth-century sense, he moved in the highest social and literary circles; a great friend of Charles Dickens (he was the dedicatee of Great Expectations) with whom he shared a fascination of mesmerism... Bulwer Lytton described his life's 'Beau-deal of happiness' as 'elegant rest, travel, lots of money - and he is always ill and melancholy'. Of the many watercolours and British and continental oil paintings he bequeathed to the V&A, the majority are landscapes. He is the first identifiable British collector of early photographs apart from the Prince Consort, particularly landscape photography, and also collected gems and geological specimens.'





Historical context
This painting depicts a kaag, a type of cargo vessel, which conveyed men and supplies to and from men-of-war ships. There exists a vast number of paintings of kaags by artists of the 17th-century, Dutch School.



Peter Monamy was known to have been inspired by the Van de Veldes and, in some cases, to have imitated them so closely, that he produced copies of their work (see George Vertue, ‘Notebooks’, Walpole Society, 6 vols, 1929-52; ‘Peter Monamy’, Pieter van der Merwe, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). 1398-1869 is just such an example and is based on a A Kaag at Sea Close-hauled in a Strong Breeze, signed and dated (1677) by Willem van de Velde the Younger (Phillips sale, London, 5 December 1989, lot no.84, published in M.S.Robinson, ‘The Paintings of the Willem van de Veldes’, 1990, p.814). The cumulous cloud formation is similar in both paintings as is the broadside view of the kaag, depicted slightly off-centre to the left. The vessels depicted in the background of each painting differ. Robinson believes that this kaag view is an unusual subject for Van de Velde the Younger to have painted in 1677 and its naturalism suggests that it, ‘could be a spontaneous work when the Van de Veldes were in Dutch waters on their passage to Holland with the fleet of yachts taking William of Orange and Princess Mary across the North Sea after their marriage’, (Robinson, p.814). Van de Velde’s work measures 37x 56cm and is much smaller than Monamy’s version.



1398-1869 is signed by Peter Monamy in the lower, left corner, ‘P. Monamy: Pinx’ with the ‘P’ embellished. This style accords with the artist’s usual practice of signing his works as noted in Charles Harrison-Wallace and David Joel, The Call of the Sea: Peter Monamy, Charles Brooking and the Early British Marine Painters, 2009, p.50.



A smaller version of this painting by Monamy, similarly signed, exists in a private collection.



Subject depicted
Bibliographic Reference
Charles Harrison-Wallace, Peter Monamy, 1681-1749: Marine Artist, 1983. Catalogue to an exhibition of the same name at Pallant House Gallery in 1983 (in which 1398-1869 is renamed, Port view of a kaag in a fresh breeze).
Collection
Accession Number
1398-1869

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record createdFebruary 12, 2007
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