Thomas Luny, Seascape

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Country House
Medium and support
Oil on panel
Overall height: cm6 cm, Overall width: 36 cm
Thomas Luny (1759-1837)
Catalogue Number
  • Signed and dated lower left on driftwood 'Luny 1830'


The marine painter Thomas Luny grew up in Cornwall and was apprenticed to Francis Holman in London by 1773. While living in London he exhibited at the Society of Artists, the Free Society of Artists and the Royal Academy, and found regular patronage from the officers of the British East India Company. Although some of Luny’s paintings suggest he travelled abroad to places such as Egypt and Italy, he is only known to have made a visit to Paris in 1777, before moving to Teignmouth in Devon in mid-1807. Luny recorded his paintings, purchasers and prices between February 1807 and December 1835. During this time, he made more than 2200 pictures, mainly of local coastal and shipping scenes and naval events, which mostly sold for less than £5, although he did sell some works for up to £25 (see TN6 and TN80). By the 1820s, Luny was suffering from arthritis in his hands, but this did not seem to stem his output as he continued painting by holding the brush with both fists or strapped to his wrist.

This painting, signed and dated 1830, is one of Luny’s later works, characterised by more muted colours. It shows a man-of-war sailing by a lighthouse, with a fishing boat in the foreground and a mountain in the distance. Although the location is not known, and a degree of artistic license might have been used in contriving the scene, it bears compositional and stylistic similarities to paintings by the artist of the North African coast (fig. 1) and the Bay of Naples, as well as another mystery location.

undated. Oil on panel, 35.7 × 47 cm. Plymouth City Council (PLYME.P23.001).

Figure 1.
Thomas Luny, A Warship and Fishing Boats off the North African Coast, undated. Oil on panel, 35.7 × 47 cm. Plymouth City Council (PLYME.P23.001).

Digital image courtesy of The Box (Plymouth City Council). (All rights reserved)

by Emily Burns

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