This attractive work depicts a calm with a two-decker, starboard quarter view, firing a gun on her port side; to the right and close astern is a ship’s barge pulling away; closer and further on the right is a fishing boat with two men laying or hauling a net. In the background and almost central is an English yacht and to the right another small two-decker. Further in the distance is another ship and further out to sea the multitudinous sails of other vessels. This tranquil scene is enhanced by the blue summer sky and the wonderfully observed reflection of the saluting ship in the calm waters.
Peter Monamy was born in London in 1681, the youngest son of a Guernseyman. Throughout his career he was heavily influenced by the works of Willem van de Velde, the Younger, as evident in the work presented here, and other North European, Dutch and French masters. Monamy was himself a collector of van de Velde’s drawings and these clearly influenced his development as a maritime painter resulting in numerous commissions from mercantile and naval patrons, including the famous Channel Island’s naval families, the Durrels and the Saumarezs. In 1726, he was elected a 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. From the 1730s until his death, Monamy was at the centre of London’s artistic life and was a friend and companion of Hogarth, sometimes collaborating with the celebrated younger artist. Despite his many commissions however, he was never particularly prosperous and, as a result, often painted decorative pictures specifically for commercial galleries and dealers.