Thomas Luny (British, 1837)

Thomas Luny (British, 1759–1837) was a marine and seascape painter. Born in Cornwall, Luny moved to London as a child, and became apprenticed to the London marine painter Francis Holman at his studio in Broad Street, St. George’s. Aside from Luny’s own inherent artistic ability, the young artist was strongly influenced by Holman, and remained at his studio for the next decade.

In 1777, Luny left London and traveled through Western Europe. Inspired by his time abroad, his first exhibited work in London, at the Society of Artists, was entitled A Distant View of the Island of Madeira and Porto Santo. He regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy with 29 paintings in total between 1780 and 1802, and then exhibited three more works in 1837.

By 1780, Luny had left Holman’s studio in St. George’s. He moved to Leadenhall Street in 1783, where he met a dealer and framer who promoted Luny’s paintings very successfully for more than 20 years. Leadenhall Street also housed the headquarters of the East India Company, and he received many commissions from officers of the company. It is probable that he was invited as a guest on the company’s ships on special occasions. Sketches he made of locations such as Naples, Gibraltar, and Charleston, SC, appear as though they were done on the spot.

In about 1807, Luny decided to move to Teignmouth in Devon, where he received large numbers of commissions from ex-mariners and local gentry. By this time, he was suffering from arthritis in both hands, but this did not deter him from his work. He was as successful in Teignmouth as he had been in London, producing many works of the Devonshire coastline, as well as the occasional ship’s portrait or naval engagement, which were specific commissions.

Luny’s work is represented in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, which also has his sketchbooks in their collection, and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.