Thomas Colman Dibdin was a London-based painter of landscapes and picturesque architectural views in England, northern France, Belgium and Germany.
His watercolours are notable for their heavy admixtures of bodycolour and gum arabic, a deliberate attempt to blur the distinctions between oil and watercolour painting. In the Gallery’s work – The Butter Tower of Rouen Cathedral 1879 – the areas with liberally applied gum have darkened and cracked with age. The watercolour was purchased from the British section of the Sydney International Exhibition in 1879, where it was awarded a first degree of merit.
Dibdin exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Society of British Artists (Suffolk Street), the British Institution and the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, from the 1830s to the 1870s. He also worked as an illustrator and drew the lithographic plates for James Fergusson’s The rock-cut temples of India (1845). In 1883 his eyesight failed him and he was obliged to abandon painting. He was the author of Dibdin’s progressive lessons in water-colour painting (1848).
Adapted from Victorian watercolours, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 2017