|Description: A framed engraving entitled "Discende dal cielo Diana per vaghessiare Endimione nel Sonno Immerso". The image depicts a woman (Diana) floating on a cloud and embracing a sleeping shepherd (Endimione). A dog sleeps at the feet of the shepherd and two cherubs watch the scene from the proper left corner. The lower band of the image is plain and contains Italian script with the title, artist name, designer, original artist, and play that image scene depicts. There is also a quote (?) possibly from the original opera, "La Calisto". The top proper left hand corner has the artist name "Pietro Bonato Veneto Bassanesa incise in Roma 1806". The frame is a dull gold colour with a decorative boarder of acanthus leaves which have a white washed patina that highlights the design. The engraving is covered with glass.
This engraving depicts a scene from the opera _La Calisto_ by Baroque composer, Francesco Cavalli, written in 1651. The goddess Diana is in love with a shepherd, Endimione, but has sworn to be chaste. She can not withstand her attraction for him and when she comes across him asleep, she kisses him. The opera is based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Giovanni Faustini is credited with authoring the work’s text.
John Skynner (1762-1846) was born in England in 1762. His family had a strong connection with the Royal Navy with both his father and grandfather serving as high ranking officers. John would follow in this tradition with a distinguished naval career. Little is known of Skynner outside of his naval accomplishments. From "O’Byrne’s Naval Biographical Dictionary, 1849" we have a clear record of his rise through the Royal Navy. The dictionary states that Skynner joined the Navy in 1795 as an Able Bodied Seaman. He quickly moved through the ranks serving as a Midshipman and Master’s Mate in the Mediterranean. During the time he served in the Mediterranean, he was present for the evacuation of Corsica (1796) and saw action near Cape St. Vincent (1797). He continued to serve on the Ville De Paris and Isis and then became the Acting Lieutenant on the Nemesis. He became a full Lieutenant on March 8th, 1802 for the Amazon. While in command of the Amazon, he brought the Duke of Kent to England from Gibraltar and then returned to the Mediterranean. His daughter recalls him telling stories of the Duke walking with him on deck during this voyage. The Duke of Kent was the father of Queen Victoria. Skynner also held command of the gun-bring Hirondelle from June 19th, 1804 until December 14th, 1807.Lieutenant John Skynner was presented with a piece of plate (silver cup) given by the Merchants and others residing in the Island of Malta as a token of respect for his very meritorious conduct and unremitted attention to the numerous convoys under his charge while in the Mediterranean. He was listed as a retired Commander on April 10th, 1838.
Details of his personal life are few. He married a woman named Joanna who was 22 years younger then himself. They had six children, four boys and two girls. The oldest child, John, was born in 1816 when John was 54 years old. It can be assumed that John must have started his family some time after 1807 when details of his active Navy career end. Perhaps he returned to England and felt he was secure enough to support a wife and family. After his retirement in 1838 at the age of 76, he emigrated to Upper Canada. His reasons for emigrating so late in life are not clear although it was not uncommon for retired officers to resettle in the colonies where there were lots of opportunities and readily available land. Perhaps he had his children’s future security in mind when embarking on this endeavour. The family lived at The Anchorage which originality was located at the foot of the present Southdown Road on the shores of Lake Ontario. This property originally belonged to the Jarvis family who had used it for shipping goods to and from York (Toronto) and Niagara. |