A typical example of Thomas Luny's work, painted when he was already severely disabled with arthritis, this painting shows a brigantine on the left, a cutter setting out from the jetty in the centre and men hauling in a fishing boat in the foreground. To the right of the background, Shakespeare's Cliff at Folkestone can be seen.
Scenes of this area of the Kentish coast were also reproduced in the seventh volume of William Daniell's ‘Voyage Round Great Britain’, published in 1824, the year after Luny's picture was painted. Daniell remarked that the population of Folkestone was at that time about 4,000 and that fishing was the main livelihood: 'The fish brought in here are generally reputed as excellent in their kind; a distinction obviously arising from the care taken by the persons engaged in the trade, to maintain the superiority which their predecessors gained in the estimation of the public.' Sea-bathing at Folkestone was regarded as not only 'safe but pleasant from the general declivity and well-sheltered incurvation of the shore', and a nearby spring was thought to benefit invalids suffering from stomach disorders and general debility.
Thomas Luny, marine painter, apparently studied with the artist Francis Holman in London. He exhibited mostly at the Royal Academy, where he showed his work every year from 1780 to 1793. He showed nothing after 1793 until 1802, when he exhibited 'Battle of the Nile', and then nothing until the year of his death, when he exhibited three pictures. It is possible that in 1793 he joined the Royal Navy to fight in the French Revolutionary Wars. Luny retired to Teignmouth in Devon, in about 1810, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. In spite of being crippled by arthritis in both his hands and his legs for over 30 years he continued to paint assiduously and his total life's work is thought to have produced some 3000 pictures.
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