Luny, Thomas (1759-1837)

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Thomas Luny was born on 20th May 1759. It is thought that he was born in the small parish of St Ewe in Cornwall where he was baptised, rather than London as many books suggest. His parents were Thomas and Elizabeth Luny. Soon after his birth the family moved to London and Luny became pupil of the celebrated Thameside artist, Francis Holman, who trained him in the discipline of marine art.

In 1780 Luny left Holman and set himself up in Anchor Hope Street. He painted a large number of works depicting ships of the East India Company, and later works showing naval battle scenes. Many of these were probably commissioned by the ship captains. As a result of his extensive knowledge of rigging and other marine details it has been suggested that Luny may have been taken by the Royal Navy as a guest to record certain maritime events or even that he might have enlisted in the Merchant Service. However, neither of these theories has been confirmed.

In 1807 Luny moved to Teignmouth, Devon where he remained for the rest of his life. The move was probably made for health reasons as he suffered from arthritis in his hands. Also many of his ex-mariner friends had retired there.

Eventually his arthritis confined him to a wheelchair and affected his hands so he had to hold his brush between both hands or strapped to his wrist. Even so he produced over 2,200 paintings between 1807 and 1835. He died on 30th September 1837 and was buried in West Teignmouth Churchyard.