Dominic Serres (Auch 1722-1793 London), circa 1745-50
A view of of the French Fortress of Louisburg on Cape Breton Island, which guarded the entrance to the St. Lawrence River. oil on canvas 23-7/8 x 32-3/4 in. (60.5 x 83.2 cm.)
While this painting is titled on the frame as "New York ~ Circa 1720", and after much research, it has been determined that this is the French fortress of Louisburg, on Cape Breton Island which guarded the entrance to the St. Lawrence River. The reasons are as follows: First, the topography is wrong for New York, especially the island with the tower/lighthouse. Secondly, the New York waterfront never had this degree of fortification. Third, the fortress of Louisburg was captured by the British in 1745 but returned to France under the Treaty of Aix La Chappelle in 1748. Lastly, the ships depicted are earlier than that and more appropriate for the 1748 period. Thus, Serres shows us the newly captured fortress flying the Union flag, as a piece of propoganda, which was then returned to France in 1748, and then re-captured by the British in 1758.
We wish to thank Michael Naxton and Charles Omell for their research on this painting.