A marine painter of significant notice, Peter Monamy led a diverse professional life while becoming a serious painter. He was born in 1681 to a family of merchants and traders. By the age of fifteen he had been apprenticed to a painter and stainer by the name of William Clark, who functioned as a full service interior decorator. It is believed that Monamy would have participated in mural painting, sign making and interior painting of panels and overdoors.
By 1704 he had met the terms of his apprenticeship and was free to establish a business of his own. By 1708 he was busy enough to require an apprentice and took on Henry Kirby to assist him with his work.
Between 1714 and 1720 it is believed that Monamy worked in both England and Ireland painting portraits of some of the ships in the Royal Cork Yacht Club as well as participating in documenting the restoration of the Rudyerd's Eddystone Lighthouse in Plymouth, England.
By 1720 it is known that he had taken up serious easel painting as a major part of his work. His many successes are noted in documents and records of the period, including commissions for five large paintings to the Painter's Hall, and an overmantel in a famous house located on Bond Street in London.
By 1740 however, politics would impact his work as the styles of the court of King George I gave way to a new atmosphere of continental tastes and styles taking precedent. The old masters held sway, and the native English painters suffered.
The opening of the Vauxhall Gardens provided Monamy and several of his peers the opportunity to create a show place for the English painters, and Monamy would be commissioned for four large scenes for the building. Interestingly, the images were so incredibly popular that they were reproduced in prints and lithographs until well into the nineteenth century.
His final paintings were scenes depicting the famous exploits of several English officers during the capture of Porto Bello. Today he is known for his marine subjects, but his storms and naval scenes as well as his interior design are also of great interest to anyone interested in the period.