In 1814, a landscape work, exhibited at the Paris Salon, won John Glover a gold medal from Louis XVIII. In 1821, a leading European art magazine noted that “as a landscape painter he stands in the first rank of British artists”. This was certainly the case based on earnings as Glover was second only to the esteemed Turner as a money-maker in landscape. However, when Glover moved from England to Australia he effectively vanished from the history of British art. Their loss was our gain. Glover became one of Australia’s most celebrated colonial artists.
John Glover migrated to Australia with his wife in 1831, at the age of 64. He made Hobart his home and developed a unique way to paint the Tasmanian bush that was unrivaled by any other artist of the time. Born to a farming couple in Leicestershire England, he showed skill as a sketcher from a very young age. John took classes and went on to make a successful living as a painter and drawing master. Then, after years of exhibitions, and a very reputable career in the United Kingdom, he followed his sons to Van Diemens Land, or as we know it today, Tasmania.
The Glover’s set up a farm in Deddington, North of Hobart Town, and his sons worked the land while John Glover continued to sketch outdoors and paint. He held exhibitions in England, showing new paintings from Australia, as well as paintings drawn from sketches he created while living in England.
John Glover’s painting style altered significantly when he arrived in Australia. The vastly different landscape influenced him to take an alternative approach; swapping the English colour palette he was familiar with, for more natural shades and earthy tones that reflect the moods of the Aussie bush.
I think My Harvest Home is one of his most beautiful paintings, a work he created 3 years after he set up in Deddington. It shows his thriving farm being worked by convicts, free labour assigned to his holding. John Glover was one of the first painters to capture colonial life like this, and his passion and respect for the Australian landscape is obvious through his detail, colour and creative use of light.
67 years after his passing John Glover’s work can be seen in many galleries throughout the country and the John Glover Society runs the annual ‘Glover Prize’, which celebrates and awards talented Tasmanian landscape artists who share the same enthusiasm and love for the land he eventually came to call home.