Dominic Serres (British, 1722-1793) Captain George Montagu of the 'Pearl', 32 guns, engaging the Spanish frigate 'Santa Monica' off the Azores, 14th. September 1779 61 x 91.4 cm. (24 x 36in.)
Lot 75
Dominic Serres
(British, 1722-1793)
Captain George Montagu of the 'Pearl', 32 guns, engaging the Spanish frigate 'Santa Monica' off the Azores, 14th. September 1779 61 x 91.4 cm. (24 x 36in.)
£ 20,000 - 30,000
US$ 26,000 - 38,000

Marine Pictures

27 Feb 2007, 14:00 GMT

London, New Bond Street

Lot Details
Dominic Serres (British, 1722-1793)
Captain George Montagu of the 'Pearl', 32 guns, engaging the Spanish frigate 'Santa Monica' off the Azores, 14th. September 1779
signed 'D. Serres' and dated 1781 (lower left)
oil on canvas
61 x 91.4 cm. (24 x 36in.)

Footnotes

  • Bearing an ancient name amongst the vessels of the Royal Navy, the 32-gun fifth rate H.M.S. ‘Pearl’ was one of the seven ‘Alarm’ class frigates ordered when the Seven Years’ War was at its height. ‘Pearl’s’ keel was laid down in Chatham dockyard in May 1761 and she was launched, surprisingly quickly, on 27th March 1762. Measured at 680 tons and 125 feet in length, her main armament consisted of 26-12pounders and she had a crew of 220 officers and men. Not ready for sea until the War was almost over, she had to wait until the American War of Independence (1775-82) to show her mettle and her battle honours then included the capture of the island of St. Lucia (December 1778) and the victory over the French fleet off Cape Henry, Virginia (16th March 1781), by which the British regained vital control of Chesapeake Bay. In addition to those two large-scale actions, she also captured two enemy vessels in 1779 and 1780 respectively, the first of which is portrayed in this atmospheric work commissioned by her commanding officer.

    In the autumn of 1779, the ‘Pearl’, under the command of Captain George Montagu, was cruising off the island of Fayal, in the Azores, when, at 6 o’clock on the morning of 14th September, she sighted a suspicious sail on the horizon and gave chase. It took ‘Pearl’ three-and-a-half hours to overhaul her adversary which, proving to be a Spanish frigate, she engaged immediately. After a spirited action lasting two hours, the enemy vessel was forced to capitulate and, when taken, was found to be the 28-gun ‘Santa Monica’ under Captain Don M. de Nunes. Despite having four fewer guns however, the ‘Santa Monica’ was in every other sense a larger and finer ship than ‘Pearl’ herself, with all her dimensions greater and her tonnage especially so. Notwithstanding the damage which ‘Pearl’ had inflicted on her during the fight, ‘Santa Monica’ made a valuable addition to the Royal Navy and, after repairs, was recommissioned using her original name and re-rated as a ‘36’. Her career under British colours proved short-lived however when, towards the end of the American War, she was wrecked off Tortola, in the West Indies, after striking a submerged rock on 1st April 1782. ‘Pearl’ meanwhile went on to serve in the next War and, after being present at the capture and subsequent evacuation of Toulon in 1793, remained on active service until hulked in 1803. Eventually renamed ‘Prothee’ in 1825, she was thereafter employed as a receiving ship until finally broken up in 1832.

    Admiral Sir George Montagu, G.C.B. (1750-1829) was made Lieutenant in 1771 and received his final promotion to Admiral in 1810. After serving with particular distinction during the American War of Independence, he was made Rear-Admiral as early as April 1794 and, in 1803, was appointed C. in C. at Portsmouth.


    Provenance:
    Probably commissioned by Captain (later Admiral Sir) Sir George Montagu, RN (1750-1829)
    Miss Montagu (by 1883)
    Margaret, Lady Gretton (d. 1999), Ufford, Lincolnshire.

    Exhibited:
    Royal Academy (London), 1781, no 373 (together with a companion view of the “Sancta (sic) Monica striking to the Pearl”, no. 375).

    Literature:
    Alan Russett, Dominic Serres, Antique Collectors’ Club, Woodbridge 2001, page 144, where this painting, its companion (see R.A. Exhibition note above) and a third related work also involving H.M.S. ‘Pearl’ are discussed.


    We would like to thank Alan Russett for his help in cataloguing this lot.
Activities
Auction information

This sale is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future sales, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this sale, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £175,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £175,001 to £3,000,000 the Hammer Price
12.5% from £3,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

For payment information please refer to the sale catalogue.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Similar Items