Thomas Chambers was born in London in 1808 and emigrated to the United States in 1832. A painter of both landscapes and marine scenes, Chambers did not confine his artistic subjects to views that he knew firsthand but made liberal use of both his imagination and popular engraved images. Chambers is known to have looked not only to the Englishman William H. Bartlett's views, executed for Nathaniel Parker Willis' volume American Scenery (London, 1840), but also to Asher B. Durand's and Jacques Gerard Milbert's prints as the basis for several of his compositions. A number of Chambers' depictions of naval battles during the War of 1812 are based upon engravings, at least two from prints after Thomas Birch.
For the years 1834 and 1840 he was listed as a landscape or marine painter in the New York City directory. From 1843 to 1851 he lived in Boston, then moved to Albany, where he remained until 1857. He was subsequently listed in city directories in New York, 1858-1859; Boston, 1860-1861, and New York again, 1862-1866. After this time there appears to be no record of him, and his death date is unknown. [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published, or to be published, in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
Little Nina Fletcher. "Earliest Signed Picture by T. Chambers." Antiques 53 (April 1948): 285.
Little, Nina Fletcher. "T. Chambers: Man or Myth?" Antiques 53 (March 1948): 194-196.
Little, Nina Fletcher. "More about T. Chambers." Antiques 60 (November 1951): 469.
Merritt, Howard S. "Thomas Chambers-Artist." New York History 37 (April 1956): 212-222.
Chotner, Deborah, with contributions by Julie Aronson, Sarah D. Cash, and Laurie Weitzenkorn. American Naive Paintings. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 43.