No single artist contributed more to recording the naval side of the French revolutionary wars than Thomas Whitcombe. His output was vast, including fifty paintings for plates in "Naval Achievements of Great Britain", published after the wars and at least one hundred additional paintings for wartime engravings.
Born in London around 1752, little is known about Whitcombe's background or artistic education. He exhibited numerous works between 1783 and 1824 at the Royal Academy, the British Institute and the Suffolk Street Gallery. Rated for their artistic merit along with his contemporaries Thomas Luny, Nicolas Pocock and Robert Dodd, Whitcombe's works are considered unique as crossovers between dramatic sea pictures and classic ship portraiture.
There can be no doubting Whitcombe's ability to draw ships and their relation to wind and sea conditions. It is obvious that he devoted his entire life to marine painting and had some practical experience at sea. His pictures all show atmospheric unity with forceful cloud patterns and seas filled with movement and strength.
Whitcombe's Works are in the collections of many public and private institutions including:
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England
- The Tate Gallery, London, England
- Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
- Mariners Museum, Newport News, Virginia
- United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
- The Office of Naval Records, Washington, D.C.