One of the most important roles of the Royal Navy thoughout the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars was the blockade of France's coast and principal ports. The reasons for these long and frequently tedious operations were two-fold, firstly, to cripple France's mercantile trade and prevent the import of valuable supplies of war materials and secondly, even more importantly, to bottle up the French Navy in its base ports thereby keeping the open seas free of threats to Britain's own battle and merchant fleets. The blockading policy was extremely successful and few vessels of the French navy evaded the vigilance of the Royal Navy. The present view shows a frigate of the red squadron, of the Channel Fleet under the command of Plymouth-born Rear Admiral Sir Edward Thornbrough (1754-1834).
Thomas Luny, born in Cornwall in 1759, was a member of the Thames group of painters around Deptford. By 1773, Luny was a pupil of the maritime painter, Francis Holman (fl. 1760-90), and he first exhibited in 1777 at the Society of Artists and thereafter frequently exhibited at the Royal Academy. Stylistically, Luny's work continued in the 17th century marine tradition established by the van de Velde family. His successful practice in London, enabled him in 1807 to leave the city for Teignmouth where he built a substantial house.