Monamy 1. 37 x 53. Plymouth City Art Gallery. Currently being cleaned.


In order to determine precisely how and when Monamy made use of the graphic aids available to him, in my view it is necessary to start by concentrating first on the depiction of the lighthouse, and for the time being to ignore the composition of the background shipping.

To the left are two prints showing Winstanley’s first construction. The upper is the earlier, “Drawn at ye Rock by Jaaziell Johnston, Painter”, which was engraved and issued in 1698. Another print of the second tower was issued after its construction in 1699.

The lower print is based on the upper, and was engraved by Henry Roberts, 1761, after the completion of Smeaton’s lighthouse in 1759, and issued in connection with Smeaton’s account of its construction. Roberts also engraved a print of the second construction at the same time: see here.

There can be no doubt that Monamy’s painting portrays this first Winstanley construction. It would also seem reasonable to assume that he made use of the earlier engraving.

There were, however, other drawings of this lighthouse. Alison Barnes has generously directed my attention to an entry in the Calendar of Treasury Papers, Jan 7, 1702, Vol LXXVII, p 6, which shows that Thomas Baston “….. by the King’s order, through Major Gen Trelawny, … made a draught of the lighthouse on the Eddystone near Plymouth, which the King then had at Kensington, and that afterwards, by his express orders, a second draught of the same, much larger, and according to the new alterations, which were then made, in that lighthouse, together with the draughts of several of the King’s ships of war, which after much pains and six months labour, he performed to general satisfaction, and delivered to the King at Hampton Court …..”

Besides the print, therefore, Monamy could have made use of Johnston’s original drawing, or Thomas Baston’s drawing, and it is apparent that Winstanley himself made drawings, as well as a wooden model.

There are salient additions and differences between Monamy’s painting and the engraving after Johnston, discussed below.

M1: The cleaned section. From the cover of Henry Winstanley, by Alison Barnes, 2003.

The most obvious and striking differences are the long projecting arm with the red ensign; the vestige of what looks like a central door to the left of the ladder; and the head-on view of the rock on which the lighthouse stands. It is clear that Monamy also made use of a drawing by the Younger van de Velde, reproduced further down.


Below is a sketch by the Younger van de Velde, 1699; reproduced in Robinson, van de Velde Drawings, Vol II, 1974, p.287. Van de Velde’s sketch is described by Michael Robinson on p.122 as “The Eddystone lighthouse drawn probably immediately after its completion. [It] … was begun in 1696. The light was exhibited for the first time on 14 November 1698.”

In her authoritative study of Winstanley’s life and work, Alison Barnes writes that “In the summer of 1699, Mr Winstanley strengthened, raised and enlarged his lighthouse.” She has pointed out that this drawing must have been made during the summer, when work was in progress, since it appears to show some but not all of the features of the final structure. The central door and the flag belong to the final stages, but the drawing does not include the gallery to the right, clearly delineated on engravings of the strengthened building of 1699-1703, or the mottoes. The over-elaborate wrought ironwork crowning the first construction has been replaced with ironwork more closely matching the engraved print of the final lighthouse. Essentially, therefore, van de Velde’s sketch is of the second construction, considerably taller and more robust than the first.

It is very obvious that although Monamy intended to commemorate the pioneering achievement of the first, original structure, he has followed the composition of the van de Velde sketch, and added the bright red colouring of the ensign, with its attendant keeper, for visual effect. The sky and the cloud formations are based on first-hand observation, as Janet Tamblin has remarked, but it is exceedingly unlikely that Monamy ever saw either of the Winstanley structures before they vanished.

Monamy’s exploitation of the van de Velde composition, in his three known lighthouse paintings, will be discussed on other pages. Meanwhile, his second depiction of Winstanley’s first lighthouse is examined here.

winstanley’s lighthouse 1: M1
winstanley’s lighthouse 1: M3
winstanley’s lighthouse 2
rudyerd’s lighthouse: M2
smeaton’s lighthouse

miscellaneous lighthouses
lighthouse paintings composition
monamy website index

© Charles Harrison Wallace 2004