Thomas Kennington was a portrait and genre painter in Victorian London. His subjects were usually scenes of upper-class life, especially mothers and children. He also painted psychological dramas of society life with titles such as "Disillusioned".
Kennington studied at the Royal College of Art and at the Julian Academy in Paris. He was a member of the Society of British Artists (SBA) which had been founded in 1824 by a group of artists that rebelled against the Royal Academy. The SBA became the Royal Society of British Artists (or RBA) in 1887 under the presidency of the well-known American painter, James Whistler. In 1886, Kennington and Whistler were among the founding members of the New English Art Club (NEAC), which still exists. The NEAC challenged the traditions of the Royal Academy (the artists themselves selected the paintings that the NEAC exhibited, rather than a committee) and the NEAC became a center for French influence and impressionism which was not favored by the Royal Academy. Kennington was also a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Oil.
Although he did not become a member of the Royal Academy, Kennington exhibited his work at the Academy off and on from 1880 until his death in 1916. He also exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery (a location favored by Pre-Raphaelites such as Burne-Jones),the Society of British Artists, Suffolk Street and the New Watercolour Society. Kennington also exhibited internationally in Paris and Rome receiving the bronze medal at the 1889 Exposition Universelle.
Museums containing works by Kennington include the Liverpool Museum, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Manchester Museum.
Kennington’s son, Eric Henri Kennington (1888-1960) was a successful painter and sculptor who did become a member of the Royal Academy in 1959.