Thomas Hunt benefited from a distinguished artistic education, learning first from his father, painter John Powell Hunt, and later the great Impressionist teacher, Hugh Breckenridge. The young Hunt excelled at his classes under the guidance of Breckenridge both at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and summer courses in Gloucester, but in 1923 he picked up and moved to California to explore a more lucrative career in real estate development.
Hunt became quickly immersed in the artistic circles in Laguna Beach and took up painting again, distinguishing himself among his contemporaries for his decidedly modern treatment of traditional California subject matter with his vigorous brushwork and vivid palette. In a 1931 Los Angeles Times article covering an exhibition opening, a critic offered the following review: "Thomas Hunt's paintings are highly individual, both in the artist's viewpoint and treatment... One must see a Hunt painting, not as here, close to its fellows, but alone on the wall of one's home, to appreciate its qualities. This artist's material is slight enough: a row of trees seen at a distance across water or a field; boats in some south coast or New England harbor; spray breaking over rocks; snow on a winter hillside; a village in a hollow. It is his view of these things that counts. He would seem first to abstract them as large decorative masses of color to which he then gives back so much of the actuality of nature as he feels necessary to humanize them. They do not strike the eye as 'abstractions.' One is impressed, in fact, by the poetry of nature he has felt." ("New Gallery Opens Doors," Los Angeles Times, April 26, 1931, p. B18)
The present painting, Boats at Dock, display's Hunt's exquisite use of color and mastery of form. Using boldly outlined shapes to anchor the composition, Hunt then covers the canvas with a flurry of brushstrokes to maintain a lively surface. It appears that Hunt has begun his composition with a dark ground which serves to heighten the bright colors he applies on top and to the pulsing quality of the strokes that move with the reflective waves of the water. Noted art critic, Antony Anderson commented that "Hunt sees nature in his own way and records his impressions with courage. Some day his technique will keep pace with his inspirations...For all that, how interesting his work always is! And how vital!" ("Laguna Exhibtion," Los Angeles Times, March 25, 1928, p. C18)