Thomas Allom nasceu em Londres. Era arquitecto mas distinguiu-se com ilustrador. Trabalhou nas empresas Virtue & Co. e Heath & Co., tendo ilustrado diversos livros e foi "artista topográfico", tendo estagiado no atelier de Sir Francis Goodwin. Foi também membro fundador do Royal Institute of British Architects, colaborou com Sir Carles Barry nos planos arquitectónicos do edifício do Parlamento inglês e expôs na Royal Academy of Arts, tornando-se conhecido pelos seus trabalhos topográficos utilizados para ilustrar narrativas de viagens. August Borget e William Alexander foram alguns dos seus mentores e cuja influência se reflecte no que pintou.
Do que se conhece da sua vida, sabe-se que gostava de viajar mas não terá nunca ido ao Extremo Oriente. No máximo terá andado pelo que é hoje a Turquia. Curiosamente, os seus quadros dessas paragens (Macau e China, p.e.) são dos mais conhecidos hoje em dia.
|Em cima o trabalho de Allon e em baixo o original de Borget sobre o templo da Barra.|
|Qualquer semelhança entre estas duas imagens não é mera coincidência. E este não é exemplo único.|
Allon não terá posto os pés na China nunca mas são dele as ilustrações do livro "China Illustrated, its Scenery, Architecture, Social Habits, Etc". (1845, prefácio de 1843) do reverendo George Neweham Wright, publicado pouco depois da primeira Guerra do Ópio. Nesta obra podem encontrar-se, por exemplo, "The Pr(a)ia Grande, Macao" (imagem em baixo), "Façade of the Great Temple, Macao", "Chapel in the Great Temple, Macao", "Macao, from the Forts of Heang-Shan", "Dinner Party at a Mandarin's House", "Festival of the Dragon-Boat, 5th Day of the 5th Moon". Também ilustrou "China Illustrated (1843-1847), só mais um exemplo. Thomas Allom morreu em Barnes em 1872.
|Gravura representando a Baía da Praia Grande, ca. 1835. Gravado por W. H. Capone, a partir de um desenho de Thomas Allon, com base num esboço feito pelo Tenente White.|
He was born in Lambeth, south London, the son of a coachman from Suffolk. In 1819, he was apprenticed to architect Francis Goodwin for whom he worked until 1826. He then studied at the Royal Academy School. His designs for churches shown at exhibitions in 1824 and 1827 aroused considerable interest, and he later designed many buildings in London, including a workhouse in Marloes Road, Kensington (1847), the Church of Christ in Highbury in 1850, the Church of St Peter's in Notting Hill in 1856, and parts of the elegant Ladbroke Estate in west London. Further afield his works included workhouses at Calne, Wiltshire (1847) and in Liverpool, design of the William Brown Library also in Liverpool, (1857–1860), and the tower of St. Leodegarius Church, Basford near Nottingham (1860). He also worked with Sir Charles Barry on numerous projects, including the Houses of Parliament and the remodelling of Highclere Castle.
However, Allom is chiefly known for his numerous topographical works, which were used to illustrate books on travel. From the 1820s onwards, he travelled extensively through the UK and mainland Europe. In 1834 he arrived in Istanbul, Turkey, and produced hundreds of drawings during journeys through Anatolia, Syria and Palestine. The results of this expedition were published in 1838 in Constantinople and the Scenery of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor published in two volumes with text by Robert Walsh. Emily Reeve's Character and Costume in Turkey and Italy, published in London in 1840, was also illustrated with engravings by Allom. He is also remembered for numerous illustrations of China, published in China Illustrated in 1845. He also provided illustrations for "Family Secrets" by Mrs Ellis (1841) and E W Brayley's "A topographical history of Surrey" (1850).
Allom suffered from a heart condition in his later years, and although he only retired in 1870, his artistic and architectural output slowed during the 1860s. He designed Holy Trinity Church, Castelnau (in south west London) in 1868 – his local church to which he contributed £50 towards the cost of its construction. In 1865 was commissioned to design a mausoleum for former MP George Dodd in West Norwood Cemetery. Allom died aged 68 in Barnes.