The son of a Baptist minister and schoolmaster, Samuel Thomas Gill was educated at his father's school in Devonshire, England, where his ability to draw was first noticed. He came to Australia with his parents in 1839 and soon after set himself up in a studio in Adelaide, advertising:
'He solicits the attendance of such individuals as are desirous of obtaining correct likenesses of themselves, families, or friends ... Correct resemblances of horses, dogs &c. with local scenery, &c. executed to order. Residences sketched and transfered to paper ...' ('South Australian Register' March 1840, see 'S T Gill, the South Australian years 1839-1852', Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 1986, pg. 1).
Gill is best known for his drawings, watercolours and lithographs of early colonial life and landscapes in South Australia, Victoria and NSW. He took an interest in the exploits of explorers Edward John Eyre and Charles Sturt and accompanied John Horrocks on his ill-fated expedition north of the Flinders Ranges in 1846. His images of life on the Victorian goldfields are among his most memorable, resulting in several lithographic series between 1852 and 1855. There are also two series of Sydney lithographs, dated 1856. A keen sense of humour is a feature of his work and a capacity for revealing the essentials of a subject.
excerpt from Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, '19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels in the Gallery's collection', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2005
pencil, watercolour, white gouache
33.5 x 58.5 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.l. corner, brown watercolour "STG". Not dated.
Not on display
Shown in 4 exhibitions
100 years of Australian painting (1948), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 19 Apr 1948–17 May 1948
Australian images: Prints, drawings and watercolours from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Dec 1979–28 Jan 1980
Nineteenth century Australian watercolours from the collection (1991), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Apr 1991–07 Jul 1991
19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Apr 2005–24 Jul 2005
Referenced in 7 publications
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Works on Paper', pg. 182-197, Sydney, 1999, 186 (colour illus.).
Hendrik Kolenberg., Nineteenth century Australian watercolours from the collection, 'Introduction', Sydney, 1991. cat.no. 26; not paginated
Bernard Smith, 100 years of Australian painting, 'Foreword', pg. 2-4, Sydney, 1948, 13. watercolours cat.no. 3; titled 'The overlanders'; note: by 'Thomas Gill'
Australian Painting 1788-1960, South Melbourne, 1962, 36 (illus.).
Australian images: Prints, drawings and watercolours from the collection, Sydney, 1979, 5.
19th century Australian watercolours, drawing and pastels from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 2005, 47 (colour illus.).
Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 67 (colour illus.).