Dominic Serres (1722 – 1793)
Royal Navy Off Portsmouth
Oil on copper panel
signed and dated 1781
8.5 x 20.1in (21 x 51 cm)
Dominic Serres was born in Auch, Gascony and is considered to be one of the most talented and influential marine painters to emerge from eighteenth century Europe. Born in France to a family of nobility, he was urged by his parents to join a priesthood. His own vision led him to Spain where he became a seaman. Captured and impressed into service by the British, he rose to the rank of Commander in the Royal Navy. He had a period of training under Charles Brooking.
With his style illustrating an expert’s knowledge of the great ships of the 17th and 18th centuries, his works are regarded as some of the most accurate from any period. He is known chiefly for his depictions of the seven years war and the British side of the American Revolution. With great attention given to the background and unity of light, he is often compared to the Dutch marine masters who founded the European School of Marine Painting.
Serres later published Liber Nauticus, a critical work on marine painting, which was to influence numerous masters of the 19th century, such as J.E. Butterworth. Due to his widely recognized talent, Serres was appointed a founder member of the Royal Academy and was commissioned as a royal painter to George III. Serres died in 1793 and his eldest son John Thomas Serres 1759 – 1825 also became a prolific marine artist. There are many notable museums that have examples of this illustrious maritime painter, notably: The Fitzwilliam Museum; Colchester and Ipswich Museum; Bradford Museum; Hampshire County Museum; Greenwich Maritime Museum; Victoria and Albert Museum; University of Birmingham; Shipley Art Gallery; Leeds Museum; University of Edinburgh; National Trust; National Museum of Portsmouth; Hackney Museum; Chalmers Bequest Jersey Heritage; Royal Academy of Arts; Grundy Art Gallery.
It is quite rare to have an original frame with a painting of 233 years of age and this tortoiseshell frame appears to be very close to the original date of the painting. On the reverse of the copper panel is an embossed stamp and crown of the specialist copper panel maker and address. The crown possibly denotes a Royal appointment.