Thomas Chambers

born Whitby, England 1808-died Whitby, England 1869, active USA 1832-1865
Whitby, England
Whitby, England
Active in
  • Albany, New York, United States
  • Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • New York, New York, United States
  • American

Since the 1940s, Thomas Chambers has been a publicly recognized artist, known primarily for his marine paintings and scenes of the Hudson River Valley. Although some of his work is known to be based on prints by W. H. Bartlett and others, Chambers's compositions are not imitations. His work is highly individual and imaginative—characterized by areas of bright, flat color, large generalized forms, and sharp contrasts between light and dark areas.

Lynda Roscoe Hartigan Made with Passion: The Hemphill Folk Art Collection in the National Museum of American Art (Washington, D.C. and London: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990)

Artist Biography

Thomas Chambers was born in London, England, in 1808. Already a trained artist in his native land, he came to the United States in 1832 and soon established himself as a landscape painter and became a naturalized citizen. Over the years his residence alternated between New York City and Boston as he sought to meet the need for artists in these cities; he described himself variously as landscape painter, marine painter, portrait painter, and the more inclusive title of artist to suit these needs. However, Chambers is best known for his landscapes. His work has been described as a departure from the landscape tradition and highly distinctive in terms of color and design. Chambers died in 1879.

National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996)

Luce Artist Biography

More than sixty-five paintings have been attributed to Thomas Chambers, but biographical information on this nineteenth-century artist is scarce. He was born in England and may have apprenticed as an engraver before coming to the United States in 1832. He became an American citizen and worked in New York, Boston, and Albany, advertising himself as a painter of marines and landscapes. Chambers based several of his paintings on engravings of other artists work, and rarely signed or dated his creations. His stylized shapes and bold, flat areas of vibrant color suggest that he intended his images of rivers, harbors, and mountains to be used for decorative purposes, rather than as literal representations of the landscape.