Overview

Seventeen years after Benjamin West settled in England, a London newspaper's review of the 1780 Royal Academy exhibition stated that The Battle of La Hogue "exceeds all that ever came from Mr. West's pencil." In 1692, Louis XIV of France had mounted an ill-fated attempt to return James II, a fellow Catholic, to the throne of England. In response, Britain and her Protestant allies, the Dutch, massed their fleets and engaged the enemy for five days off the northern French coast near La Hogue. Benjamin West condensed the events of the long battle into one dramatic composition that, by employing much artistic or poetic license, is largely propaganda.

Standing in a boat at the left, for instance, Vice Admiral George Rooke embodies heroic command with his upright posture and raised sword. Yet, in order to survey the maneuvers, he undoubtedly gave orders from a distance. Beached in the center distance is the French flagship, the Royal Sun. Actually burned and sunk a few days before this encounter, the Royal Sun is here deliberately refloated -- only to be run against the cliffs so that West might symbolize the French defeat. This complex, multi-figured panorama is an excellent example of West's influential early style, and of the balanced designs and carefully blended brushwork of eighteenth-century neoclassicism.

Inscription

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Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Richard Grosvenor, 1st Earl Grosvenor [1731-1802]; his son, Robert Grosvenor, 1st Marquis of Westminster [1767-1845]; his son, Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquis of Westminster [1795-1869]; his son, Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster [1825-1899]; his grandson, Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster [1879-1953];[1] his estate; (sale, Sotheby's, London, 15 July 1959, no. 125); (John Nicholson Gallery, London and New York); sold 11 December 1959 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1780
Royal Academy, London, 1780, no. 73, as The Destruction of the French fleet at La Hogue, 1692
1851
British Institution, London, 1851, no. 117
1857
Art Treasures of the United Kingdom: Paintings by Modern Masters, Art Treasures Palace, Manchester, 1857, no. 109.
1891
Royal Naval Exhibition, Chelsea, London, 1891, no. 296, as Destruction of the French Ships in the Bay of La Hogue, after the Battle of Barfleur, 23rd May 1692
1963
Four Centuries of American Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, 1963-1964, unnumbered
1989
Benjamin West: American Painter at the English Court, Baltimore Museum of Art, 1989, no. 21
2001
American Heroism, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2001, no. 1, repro.

Bibliography

1780
"An Artist." A Candid Review of the Exhibition (being the twelfth) of the Royal Academy, MDCCLXXX. Dedicated to His Majesty. 2nd edition. London, 1780: 18.
1780
"Another Artist." "To the Author of A Candid Review of the Exhibition (being the twelfth) of the Royal Academy, 1780." The Gazetteer, and New Daily Advertiser (15 May 1780): 1.
1780
"Candid." "To the Printer of the Morning Chronicle." The Morning Chronicle, and London Advertiser, 20 May 1780: 2.
1780
"Exhibition 1780." The Public Advertiser, 2 May 1780: 2.
1780
"Exhibition of the Royal Academy." The London Courant, and Westminster Chronicle (6 May 1780): 4.
1780
[Notice of the Opening of the Academy]. The London Evening-Post, 29 April - 2 May 1780: 4.
1780
"Royal Academy." The London Chronicle, 2-4 May 1780: 428.
1780
"Royal Academy." The Morning Chronicle, and London Advertiser, 2 May 1780: 3.
1780
"The Painter's Mirror." The Morning Post, and Daily Advertiser (4 May 1780): 3.
1796
Pasquin, Anthony. Memoirs of the Royal Academicians. London, 1796: 75-76.
1805
"A Correct Catalogue of the Works of Mr. West." Public Characters of 1805. London, 1805: 561.
1805
"A Correct List of the Work of Mr. West." Universal Magazine 3, no. 19 (June 1805): 528.
1807
Barlow, Joel. The Columbiad. A Poem. Philadelphia, 1807: 310, 432 (note 45).
1808
"A Correct Catalogue of the Works of Benjamin West, Esq." La Belle Assemblée or Bell's Court and Fashionable Magazine 4, Supplement (February 1808): 14, 19, 54.
1820
Galt, John. "A Catalogue of the Works of Mr. West." The Life, Studies, and Works of Benjamin West, Esq., President of the Royal Academy of London. 2 vols. London, 1820: 2:220, 225, 233.
1821
Young, John. A Catalogue of the Pictures at Grosvenor House, London; with Etchings from the Whole Collection. London, 1821: 7, no. 18, pl. 7.
1829
Smith, John Thomas. Nollekens and His Times. 2nd edition. 2 vols. London, 1829: 2:302.
1831
Hamilton, George. The English School: A Series of the Most Approved Productions in Painting and Sculpture, Executed by British Artists from the Days of Hogarth to the Present Time. 4 vols. London, 1831-1832: 4(1832):280.
1834
Dunlap 1834, 1:65, 88-91, 93, 125.
1836
Passavant, Johann David. Tour of a German Artist in England. Translated by Elizabeth Eastlake. 2 vols. London, 1836: 1:158; 2:55, 221.
1838
Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Works of Art and Artists in England. 3 vols. London, 1838: 2:173, 317, 318.
1844
Jameson, Anna Brownell. Companion to the most Celebrated Private Galleries of Art in London. London, 1844: 284, no. 156.
1854
Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Treasures of Art in Great Britain: Being an Account of the Chief Collections of Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, Illuminated Mss.. 3 vols. Translated by Elizabeth Rigby Eastlake. London, 1854: 2:173.
1867
Tuckerman 1867, 100-101.
1952
Flexner, James Thomas. "Benjamin West's American Neo-Classicism, with Documents on Benjamin West and William Williams." The New-York Historical Society Quarterly (January 1952): 41.
1962
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Treasures from the National Gallery of Art, New York, 1962: 130, color repro.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 321, repro.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:378, color repro.
1970
Dickason, David Howard. "Benjamin West on William Williams: A Previously Unpublished Letter." Winterthur Portfolio 6 (1970): 132.
1970
Dickason, David Howard. William Williams - Novelist and Painter of Colonial America, 1727-1791. Bloomington, 1970: 41, 233 note 60.
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 120, repro.
1975
Kraemer, Ruth S. Drawings by Benjamin West and his son Raphael Lamar West. New York, 1975: 13-14, no. 17-18, and plate 9.
1977
Dillenberger 1977, 152, no. 141.
1978
Alberts, Robert C. Benjamin West. A Biography. Boston, 1978: 127, 132, 145, 153, 165, 182, 326, 390, 397.
1979
Watson, Ross. National Gallery of Art. London, 1979: 94, pl. 82, color repro.
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 254, repro.
1980
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 12, no. 2, repro.
1981
Williams 1981, color detail 2-3, 25, repro. 38-39, 40, 57.
1982
The Diary of Joseph Farington. Vols. 7 and 8. Edited by Kathryn Cave. New Haven and London, 1982: 7(1978):2503, 2757; 8(1982):2803, 2806.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 372, no. 524, color repro.
1986
Von Erffa and Staley 1986, 63, 68, color repro. 71, color detail 72-73, 75, 102, 157 note 90, 190, 206, 209-210, 222.
1988
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. Rev. ed. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988: 16, 50, color repro. 51.
1992
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 377, repro.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 212, repro.
1995
Miles, Ellen G. American Paintings of the Eighteenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1995: 329-334, color repro. 331.
2011
Pergam, Elizabeth A. The Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857: Entrepeneurs, Connoisseurs and the Public. Farnham and Burlington, 2011: 313.

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