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image icon 'A view of the artist's house and garden, in Mills Plains, Van Diemen's Land'

'A view of the artist's house and garden, in Mills Plains, Van Diemen's Land'
Art Gallery of South Australia

Description

This is an oil painting on canvas (76.4 cm x 114.4 cm) created by the artist, John Glover (1767-1849). Glover immigrated to Tasmania from Britain in 1830 at the age of 63, and the painting shows his Tasmanian home and garden. Glover's new shingle-roofed stone farmhouse and wooden studio-gallery with its 'ski jump' skillion roof and skylight windows are depicted in great detail. Also detailed are the plants in the cottage garden, with its orderly paths leading to points of interest such as the tree fern and pond. The time is the summer of 1834-35, and the plants that Glover had brought out from England at such great effort and expense have now become established and are repaying his hard work with vigorous growth and spectacular blooms. Many of these plants are readily identifiable, including broom, rosemary, roses, heather and lilies.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • is one of the best-known and most personal images in the history of Australian colonial art
  • is a direct expression of the realisation of Glover's dream to create his own Arcadia (rustic paradise) in a new land - a wilderness on the other side of the world
  • demonstrates the influence on Glover's art of the 17th-century European artist Claude Lorrain (1604-1682) - Glover was known as 'the English Claude' and owned works by this artist; key elements of Lorrain's style, particularly in the depiction of the sun and the general mood of calmness and splendour, are evident in 'House and garden'; unlike Claude, whose works portrayed idealised worlds, Glover has been true to his subject in this work and created a realistic landscape
  • reflects the early 19th-century European cult of nature and 'cottage' aesthetic - these were linked to the romantic idea that a golden age of innocence that existed in ancient times could be rediscovered and re-created by identifying with simple peasant life and its timeless cycles of seasonal labour and co-existence with nature
  • reflects Glover's passion for pastoral landscapes - the son of a farmer, Glover had bought a farm in the Lakes District (in the north of England) before he emigrated; he had used the farm as a retreat from his busy life as a successful commercial artist in London and had planned to retire there
  • demonstrates Glover's skills in combining observation with systems of classical landscape painting to produce a distinctive image - 'House and garden' is a detailed record of Glover's actual garden and home; however, the composition, which emphasises the contrast between the 'artificial', formally arranged garden and the 'natural' wilderness of the distant hills, indicates that Glover intended this image to symbolise the triumph of civilised order over uncivilised wilderness
  • provides a glimpse of the attitudes held by early colonists towards the Australian environment.