George Hyde Chambers
(23 October 1803 – 29 October 1840)
English marine painter
Chambers was born in a poor working class area of Whitby, second son of a seaman. Aged 8 years he was working on the coal sloops in the town harbour. Aged 10 years he served as a cabin boy on a coastal vessel, afterwards becoming a cabin boy of a Brig trading in the Baltic and Mediterranean. The Captain released him from his apprenticeship to allow him to devote himself full-time to his painting. On his return to Whitby he took up employment as a house painter and took drawing lessons from John Bird, a local artist and marine archaeologist, who was one of the founders of the Whitby Museum.
In 1825 Chambers worked his way to London on a trading vessel, where he met Christopher Crawford, formerly of Whitby and landlord of the Waterman’s Arms at Wapping, an inn frequented by a strong nautical clientele. His shipping paintings for Crawford were hung in the gentlemen’s parlour, proving popular with the clientele resulting in many of his early commissions. He also worked as a scenery painter (1828-29) assisting in Thomas Horner’s Panorama of London in the newly constructed Colosseum, and later at The Pavilion Theatre, Whitechapel (1830-31). His paintings were shown at the Royal Academy 1828-29 and 1838, the British Institution 1827-40 and the Society of British Artists 1829-38. His association with Admiral Lord Mark Kerr secured him the patronage of King William IV and Queen Adelaide who commissioned him to paint records of a variety of Royal Events. Queen Adelaide commissioned and purchased many of his paintings, which were bequeathed to Queen Victoria and remain in the Royal Collection. Between 1835-39 he was commissioned by Greenwich Hospital (now the National Maritime Museum) for a series of paintings of naval battles the most important being The Bombardment of Algiers. Chambers made a tour of Holland in 1837, which provided him with material for a number of paintings exhibited in 1837, 1838 and 1839 including “A Dutch Pinck and other vessels 1839”, which is displayed in the Whitby Museum. Another outstanding work in the Museum is the large dioramic painting of “Whitby Whalers”.
Chambers’ career was hampered by ill health and he died of heart failure at Brighton on 29th October 1840.