This is a a wonderful marine scene depicting a flotilla of battleships, warships and Admiralty yachts. Fishermen gathering their catch near to the shore and a rowing boat with sailors on board can also be seen at the centre of the work. The painting beautifully depicts one of the large vessels, that flies a Royal coat-of-arms on the stern, firing a salute in the tranquil waters.
The artist’s accuracy and exceptionally careful attention to detail manifests his intimate knowledge of maritime practice and naval architecture (such as the sails and rigging), as well as his remarkably close observation of the ocean conditions of wave and wind. This scene could be a generalised depiction of different types of ship, rather than a documentary representation of particular places or events.
Peter Monamy was born in London in 1681, the youngest son of a Guernseyman. Trained originally in house decoration, Peter Monamy was probably largely self-taught as a marine painter. His style closely followed that of Willem van de Velde the younger.
Monamy was working after the van de Velde family and other Dutch painters, who had come to work in England, had heightened interest in shipping pictures and created a growing market for them.
He emerged with Samuel Scott as one of the two leading figures in the first generation of British marine painters, although his range of work is uneven in quality. He worked industriously for at least 40 years and left a wealth of paintings illustrating the nation’s naval history and recording a wide range of ships of the first half of the 18th century.
In 1726, he was elected Liveryman of the Company of Painter-Stainers to which he presented a very large painting of the ‘Royal Sovereign at anchor’ which still remains in their collection. Although his paintings usually depict actual ships, they rarely record specific events as, up until 1739, his career coincided with a long period of peace.