Completed British 18th C, except portraits, Maritime Subjects 17 Could anyone identify the tower in the background of 'Men o' War off the Coast'?

Topic: Subject or sitter

I wonder if the tower to the left is recognizable?

The ships are apparently a ketch-rigged royal yacht that might well be identifiable and a Royal Naval two-decker saluting, with another warship at anchor beyond.

The collection note:

'I’m afraid it is not easy to make out the features of the tower but I welcome any suggestions for the location.

The title will remain as 'Men o' War off the Coast'.'

Pieter van der Merwe, Maritime Subjects, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Jade Audrey King,

This discussion is now closed. A conclusion was not reached.

Thank you to all for participating in this discussion.

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Interesting thought, but Swaine died in 1782 which was when most were only just finishing: of course he didn't have to be there, but the yacht, and the ship nchored off , suggest south coast more likely....

Patty Macsisak,

I checked artist date of death before posting and was encouraged to think that the Guernsey towers would have been a contemporary topic. It was difficult to find other examples of plain cylindrical towers along the coast of England.

Louis Musgrove,

There appears to be land on both edges of the painting- so an Estuary. The Sun is coming from the left- so probably a west facing coast. Holland?? There are several ships on the horizon- so if also warships - this must perhaps be a notable event. And the Royal Barge flies a white Admirals pennant- which depending on the exact date, could mean an Admiral was on board as well.

Thanks for the ideas: all the ships here are, however, Royal Naval 'private' ships (no flag officers) wearing 'common' pennants allowing the flags of the distant one at anchor are difficult to see: so I think it is probably English coast, although elusive. Yachts were widely used for VIP transport and similar dispatch duties so it also does not have to be a particular event.

Louis Musgrove,

The Royal Barge- looks a lot like the "William and Mary Yacht off Greenwich" which is also under discussion???????

It does appear to be a ketch-rigged yacht (the second mast being visible between the sails), as was the W&M, which lasted a long time; but there were a number of others so it will need a closer look at other sources to see if a named one can be confirmed.

Looks to me to be an essentially decorative painting, and I suspect the tower is merely a picturesque addition and not intended to be a particular place. As Patty Macsisak said, it is not of a common English architectural form.

That may well be, but what's going on still suggests (or successfully suggests)a specific location: royal yacht coming in, saluting two-decker going out, and a ship lying off in an anchorage. The figure in the foreground wears some form of pack, which usually suggests an itinerant pedlar. For some reason, if one arrives at the image from 'Your Paintings' the title reads 'Shipping off Sheerness' which is that of the one alongside it , but not correct here.

Jade Audrey King,

Just to note, the title was changed by PCF on Your Paintings in error, and is due to be corrected on the new version of Your Paintings in early 2016.

The collection have confirmed the title is 'Men o' War off the Coast', which they will retain. They would still like more information on a possible location, however.

Louis Musgrove,

Yes it does look like the same tower- and as they are a pair with Dutch references- could it be Holland ?? There is no location listed in the sale.

There is a Duch coasting trader in one but I'm sure the settings are intended as British, even if the tower is an imagined one as seems likely.

Ann Skulsky,

I don't know but in picture 55 there is a similar tower in the distance. Suggest you contact Curator of City and Maritime Heritage at Plymouth City Museum.

Government Art Collection,

Many thanks everyone for all the suggestions and contributions. All noted and added to the file. May I suggest that we close this discussion for the time being? Many thanks.