Samuel Scott, born in London in 1701/2 was, with Peter Monamy, one of the two principal English marine painters in the first generation which followed the van de Veldes. His earliest sea painting dates from 1726 and his first recorded commission came in 1732, when he was invited by the East India Company to "embellish with ships" six views of their settlements which were being executed by George Lambert. Some of his earliest paintings of naval engagements were done for the Vernon family, documenting Admiral Vernon's celebrated capture of Porto Bello in 1739 and subsequent operations, and these were so well received that other commissions for the so-called "War of Jenkin's Ear" (1739) and the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48) soon followed. His final naval scenes date from the Seven Years' War (1756-63) although the painting offered in this lot is an altogether earlier work.
Quite apart from its rarity as a bow study of the principal vessel, done at a time when most artists much preferred 'stern quarter' views because of their scope to illustrate the glorious carving which embellished and ornamented the men-o'war of the day, Scott seems to have been in flippant mood when painting it. All ships of the fleet at this time sported the same figurehead, namely a rampant lion, yet in this particular portrayal of the heraldic beast, it has a distinct grin on its face with which to delight and amuse the viewer. Such a deflection from the sober norm is unusual to say the least, the only comparable published example being seen in Monamy's "East Indiaman in a breeze" held in the National Collection at Greenwich (for which see Catalogue of Oil Paintings in the National Maritime Museum, 1988, BHC1011, p. 274, and E.H.H. Archibald, Dictionary of Sea Painters, 3rd edition, 2000, plate 209, p.323).