Monday, June 10, 2013

I struggle with John Clevely


Here's that reference pic again that I was cribbing off of for my dollie backdrop. It's The Battle of Cape Francais (I can't do the accents with this keyboard) 21 October 1757, and was based on this engraving by Francis Swaine:

According to Wikipedia: the British ships, led by Commodore Arthur Forrest, were the 60 gun ship Augusta, carrying Forrest's long Commodore's pennant; the 60 gun HMS Dreadnaught, and the 64 gun HMS Edinburgh. So I started off working on the British ship on the right, and right away as I am slotting in cannons; I see that there are too many. There should be something like 15 deck guns on each side (or 12 or 14; depending on whether there are quarterdeck guns; or stern guns; or guns in the captain's pockets) and 15 guns on the lower "gun deck". So I look closer, and I decide that maybe the bottom row of guns on Clevely's painting were actually the oar ports, since they are close to the waterline. So I scrape the hull off of what I assume is the Edinburgh (because the ship on the left has the Commodore's pennant) and start over. (In the Swaine engraving, EVERYBODY gets a pennant Because They Look Cool; Clevely was a little more restrained.)

So then I clean gutters, work on a cover, work on a Norse God, mow, weed, do laundry, dishes, keep an eye on the gray cat who has received on the same day a distemper, FelV and rabies shot, and is not feeling very happy and refusing to come inside. So I had to feed him outside and make sure he drank water. And at the end of the day, I settled down with Masters of English Landscape, and what do I find? The original of the ship I have been reworking:

Samuel Scott, "A First-Rate Shortening Sail" c. 1730 (with something like 80 plus guns). So that explains this ship in the Swaine engraving:

It does not explain the French "Escher Ship" in the center of the engraving and the painting, which I had decided to ignore.

It looks good until you look closely and see that you are looking at the stern, but the bow of the ship looks like it is coming towards you because of the one line across the sail. So in the end I just gave up, and invented a French ship and stuck it on the left side of the painting, and I will stick some non-period cathead/bows on it and call it good.

In fairness to Mr. Clevely, he made a small painting (less than 20 inches across) and it may have been just a practice piece or something the local Lion's Club wanted painted in a week for their offices, and I am sure he had no idea someone 200 years later would be looking at it on high magnification and scratching their head.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You now need a Google account to comment--I got so much spam 0_0