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Destruction of the 'Soleil Royal' at the Battle of La Hogue
1695
Peter Monamy

Destruction of the 'Soleil Royal' at the Battle of La Hogue 1695 Peter Monamy

In this relatively small painting Peter Monamy employs a simple composition to depict a crucial scene from the wider context of the Battle of Barfleur, a naval battle of the War of the League of Augsburg, which was fought between an Anglo-Dutch and a French fleet in May 1692.

The action was continuously hampered by fog and was not finally brought to a successful conclusion until May 24th in the Bay of La Hogue, in the course of which the French flagship ‘Soleil Royal’ was burned by the English. In Monamy’s painting the burning vessel can be seen on the right in the middle distance. It is depicted from a raised viewpoint looking into the bay across calm, empty waters dotted with wreckage.

Red and brownish smoke and flames of the ‘Soleil Royal’ and two other destroyed ships of the French fleet, the ‘Triomphant’ and ‘Admirable’, dramatically rise in to the sky, counterbalancing the cool overall greys and blues of the wetly-painted scene. The pictorial effect is created through the contrast between the fire and the austere and almost solitary atmosphere around it. In the distance to the left more vessels are entering the bay.

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