A set of eight plates from ‘”The tapestry hangings of the House of Lords: representing the several engagements between the English and Spanish fleets, in the ever memorable year MDLXXXVIII (1588), with the portraits of the Lord High-Admiral, and the other noble commanders, taken from the life. Drawn by Clement Lempriere, engraved and published by John Pine in 1739September 18, 2019 1:58 pm
John Pine’s celebrated work depicts the defeat of the Spanish Armada by the English Fleet under the command of Lord Howard of Effingham in 1588. The Spanish were driven towards Flanders and tried to escape through the northern seas above Scotland and Ireland, but were dispersed by storms.
Shortly after the defeat of the Armada, Lord Howard of Effingham commissioned a series of charts of the various phases of the action from Robert Adams. The tapestries depicted ten charts of the sea-coasts of England, and a general one of England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Holland, &c. showing the places of action between the two fleets; ornaments with medals struck upon the occasion, and other suitable devices.
Adams’ works were then passed on to Hendrick Vroom (1563-1640), who produced ten tapestry designs based on them. The tapestries depicted ten charts of the sea-coasts of England, and a general one of England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Holland, &c. showing the places of action between the two fleets; ornaments with medals struck upon the occasion, and other suitable devices. These designs were subsequently woven by Francis Spring of Haarlem in Holland 1592-5. The ten completed works were later sold to James I and eventually ended up in the House of Lords. Eight of the tapestries were destroyed in the fire of 1834 at the Palace of Westminster and the surviving two are now at Hampton Court. Fortunately the tapestries were recorded in John Pine’s engravings which constitute the only visual record of these valuable images.
Pine’s prints were engraved after drawings by Clement Lempriere and embellished with elegant borders incorporating emblematic figures by Hubert Gravelot, the French artist who had travelled to England in 1732. Each border contains medallions with portraits of Armada heroes identified by name such as of captains Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins and Martin Frobisher.
Pine evidently regarded the armada prints as one of the major projects of his career, since he used his influence to ensure that the Copyright Act of 1735 gave him the exclusive right to copy the tapestries, the insertion of a clause to this effect at the third reading of the bill in April 1735 indicating that the scheme took at least four years from inception to publication”
Sheet Height 38.10 cm., 1ft 3 in., Length 61 cm., 2 ft.
In ebonized wooden frames.
Frame Height 46 ½ cm. 18 in. Length 70 cm. 27 ½ in.
Five plates show action between the fleet and bordered with portraits of The Lord Admiral, Sir Robert Cary, Earl of Northumberland, Sir William Winter, Sir Roger Toundsand, Sir Thomas Garrat, Sir John Hawkins, Sir Martin Forbisher. One plate shows the Spanish being driven away and bordered with portraits of the 22 commanders. Two plates show the English coast and the position of the fleets, bordered with portraits of Sir Frances Drake and Queen Elizabeth.
ADAMS, Robert (d 1595)
An architect and surveyor who, apart from drawing a number of town plans, prepared famous charts showing the engagements day by day between the Spanish Armada and the English fleets. Subsequently the charts were used as the basis for the design of tapestries made for the House of Lords, but these, unhappily, were destroyed by fire in 1834. The charts are now best known from a 1739 publication by John Pine.
• 1588 Expeditionis Hispanorium in Angliam vera description
• 1739 Charts re-engraved and published by John Pine (1690-1756) as The Tapestry Hangings of the House of Lords representing the several Engagements between the English and Spanish Fleets in the ever memorable year 1588
GRAVELOT, Hubert-François Bourguignon (1699 -1773)
A French engraver, a famous book illustrator, designer and drawing-master. Born in Paris, he emigrated to London in 1732, where he quickly became a central figure in the introduction of the Rococo style in British design, which was disseminated from London in this period, through the media of book illustrations and engraved designs as well as by the examples of luxury goods in the “French taste” brought down from London to provincial towns and country houses. His cartouches for maps & his rococo borders were in high demand.
LEMPRIERE, Clement (1683 – 1746)
Clement Lempriere was an English cartographer and draughtsman at the Tower of London. He was in charge of the Drawing Room from 1725.
PINE, John (1690-1756)
Hogarth & Pine had a great deal in common. They were both Londoners, and apprenticed to engravers. Hogarth quickly tired of copying the ‘monsters of heraldry’, but Pine became a leading heraldic artist, eventually joining the College of Arms. Both men sought to improve the professional status and education of English artists, helping to secure copyright legislation which protected artists’ income. There were many social connections between the two men. They caroused and argued in the London coffee houses, such as Slaughter’s Coffee House in St Martin’s Lane. Pine and Hogarth also both took part in London’s new social craze of the 1720s: Freemasonry. Pine was one of the most accomplished engravers of his generation, but lacked Hogarth’s flair and originality. Whereas Hogarth’s artistic achievement was very coherent and distinctive, Pine’s output was more wide-ranging, comprising not only book illustration, but also heraldry, maps and facsimiles of historical documents. Hogarth developed an original and aggressively English style. Pine’s work is less personal, and more reliant on classical and continental models. Pine has never emerged from the shadow of Hogarth, and his artistic achievements are not widely known. Pine’s parents were Londoners. It has been suggested on the basis of Pine’s appearance in Hogarth’s portrait of him that Pine had black ancestors, but no firm evidence to support this has been found. At the age of 19, Pine was apprenticed to a London goldsmith, and became a freeman of the city in 1718. Pine set himself up as an engraver in Fleet Street, and quickly had a sensational success. In 1719, the bookseller William Taylor published an anonymous account of a man marooned on a desert island. Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (based on the story of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor who was also probably a Freemason) became a bestseller. The frontispiece of Defoe’s book was a vivid portrait of the castaway in his goatskin clothes. The book was reprinted so often that the plate wore out, and a new one had to be made. The frontispiece was the work of Pine and another London engraver called John Clark. The success of Crusoe brought Pine a great deal of work, and enabled him to establish a thriving business near Aldersgate. He provided illustrations for many popular works, ranging from a picture of Lady Godiva for a collection of old ballads to a title page for the London Journal, one of the many popular periodicals avidly read by the patrons of London’s coffee houses.
VROOM, Hendrik Cornelis (c.1562 – 1640 )
A Dutch Golden Age painter credited with being the founder of Dutch marine art or seascape painting. Vroom recorded important engagements of the Dutch and English fleets in his oil paintings, giving a detailed portrayal of ships. Most of the pieces described by Van Mander are lost, and his greatest commissions were obtained after Van Mander’s death. Vroom’s large and decorative battles, ceremonial scenes and beach views introduced novel compositional devices to be taken up by younger Dutch marinists.
He was as an artist of international repute and received two commissions for tapestry designs, one of which, from Lord Howard of Effingham, was for a series of ten tapestries depicting the defeat of the Spanish Armada of 1588, by the English under Howard’s overall command as Lord Admiral.
This post was written by joecollinson