David R Thomas (1916-1990)
Topographical artist, born and lived in London, who attended Chelsea School of Art in 1931. Because of the Depression, he became a pavement artist in London and Paris; a waiter in Covent Garden; made a round-the-world trip on a tramp steamer, being shipwrecked off Cape Town, South Africa; and did four similar voyages as a member of a P&O ship's orchestra. After World War II service in the Royal Artillery, he spent four more years at art school. Thomas showed regularly at the RA Summer Exhibition. In 1982, Ben Uri Art Gallery organised Jerusalem - Then and Now, lithographs by David Roberts and paintings made by Thomas during a 1981 visit to Israel sponsored by Edgar Astaire, London stockbroker and art collector. For this, Thomas completed 11 paintings based on locations chosen by Roberts plus nine more views he found exciting. Thomas's other favourite cities included Rome, Venice and Istanbul. He had a retrospective at the Guildhall in 1983 and the City of London owns an 18-foot wide painting by him, his largest work. Canaletto was a strong influence on Thomas and a picture of the eighteenth-century Venetian painter's house in Soho, the area where Thomas lived, was included in The Urban Scene, an exhibition organised by James Huntington-Whiteley at 4 Burlington Street in 1995.