An English painter, Thomas Luny was a member of the Thames group of marine painters around Deptford, following the tradition of the van de Velde family, Dutch 17th-century marine painters. Luny was a pupil of Francis Holman ( fl 1760–90) by 1773 and first exhibited in 1777 at the Society of Artists, showing Storm and Shipwreck (untraced). He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy from 1780 until 1793 and then only in 1802 and in the year of his death. His absence from the Academy exhibitions after 1793 gave rise to the erroneous assumption of his enlistment in the navy during the Napoleonic conflict, but there is no mention of Luny in Admiralty records.
Luny’s prolific output of representations of naval engagements, such as the Battle on the Nile (1798; London, National Maritume Museum) and paintings of Honourable East India Company Ships, enabled him in 1807 to leave London for Teignmouth, where he had a substantial house built. This move was probably prompted by the retirement of his naval patrons to the resort after the war and by the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. After 1807 he increasingly depicted the local coastal scenery and associated maritime pursuits. Luny compiled an inventory from 1807 until 1835, listing over 2800 paintings, giving details of size, subject, price and purchaser. His best work is generally considered to be from his middle period, from 1807 to 1817, before his physical disabilities took too firm a hold. Only known to have one pupil, a Captain Hulme, Luny had a limited influence on his contemporaries.
Luny is represented in the following collections: the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London; Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, amongst others.