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John Glover

England, Australia 1767–1849
A self-taught artist, Glover migrated from England to Tasmania in 1831 at the age of 64. His sensibility and luminous style made him one of the most admired painters of colonial Australia, and he is widely considered the country’s first great landscape painter. Although his work was informed by the conventions of classical European landscape painting, Glover, like other colonial painters, adapted his style and technique to his new surrounds.

Natives on the Ouse River, Van Diemen’s Land 1838

In this painting, Glover presents a romantic image of an Eden untouched by European ‘civilisation’. Like many free colonists, his understanding of the Australian colonies was coloured by an Arcadian ideal. However, the Ouse River in Tasmania (or Van Diemen’s Land as it was then known) was the site of one of the darkest periods in the region’s frontier history. By the time he painted this work in 1838, the local Aboriginal people had been dispossessed of their lands or had died through violence, starvation and disease, and the survivors transported to Flinders Island. Glover put in the figures from an earlier sketchbook and removed a building in the background to create this view.

Related material

The sources for Glover’s painting include many sketchbook drawings.