Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

John Glover (1767–1849)

by Bernard Smith

This article was published:

John Glover, attributed to Mary Morton Allport, c.1832

John Glover, attributed to Mary Morton Allport, c.1832

State Library of Tasmania, SD_ILS:85047

John Glover (1767-1849), landscape painter, was born on 18 February 1767 at Houghton on the Hill, near Leicester, England, the youngest son of William Glover, farmer, and his wife Ann. As a lad Glover worked in the fields near Ingersby, drew birds and became a lover of nature. A talent for calligraphy led to his appointment as writing master at the Free School, Appleby, about 1787. Here he started painting in oil and in water-colour. He married a woman nine years his senior and began to visit London to take drawing and painting lessons from William Payne and possibly John 'Warwick' Smith. In 1794 he moved to Lichfield, set up as a drawing master and made many sketching tours of picturesque districts. Between 1795 and 1804 he exhibited views in Cumberland, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Wales and Scotland at the Royal Academy.

The academy displayed water-colours poorly and in November 1804 Glover became a foundation member of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours. Its first exhibition so stimulated water-colour painting and collecting that Glover was able to settle with his family in London. Here he taught painting profitably and travelled assiduously in search of picturesque scenery. In 1807 he was president of the Water Colour Society. But his interest in oil painting grew; and when the society split in 1812 on the question of including oils in its exhibitions Glover became a member of the reconstructed Society of Painters in Oils and Water-Colours. He had begun to exhibit large oil paintings at the British Institution in 1810 and continued until 1827.

After Napoleon's abdication Glover visited Paris and exhibited a large painting in the Salon of 1814 which appears to have attracted the interest of Louis XVIII. But peace was attended by an economic slump which checked the demand for water-colours. About 1817 Glover left London and lived in the Lake District, near Ullswater, for two years; in 1818 he visited Italy. On 24 April 1820, however, he was able to open his own permanent exhibition at 16 Old Bond Street, where he also exhibited the work of his son William and his pupil Edward Price. Having resigned from the Society of Painters in Oils and Water-Colours in 1817 in the hope possibly of election to the Royal Academy, Glover in 1823 became a foundation member of the Society of British Artists, exhibiting with it until 1830 and remaining a member until his death.

Three of Glover's sons, James (and his wife), William and Henry, sailed for Van Diemen's Land in the Prince Regent and arrived in Hobart Town on 11 July 1829. Two married daughters, Mary Bowles and Emma Lord, remained in England. Before leaving England William had purchased eighty acres (32 ha) from the surveyor-general, for which he gave drawings to the value of £300. On arrival the three sons were granted a total of 1780 acres (720 ha) for their capital of £1600. On 1 April 1831 Glover arrived in Hobart accompanied by his wife and son John Richardson, in the Thomas Lawrie. By August he was established in a town house and had bought Ring Farm, eighteen miles (29 km) away. When applying for a land grant he stated that he had already bought two improved farms in the parish of Drummond, and had brought £7000 and English shrubs and song-birds to the colony; he expected to make £1000 a year from his paintings, in part, presumably, from sales in London. In May he was granted 2560 acres (1036 ha) which he hoped to locate on the River Jordan, but in 1832 he was allocated a grant at Mills Plains on the northern slope of Ben Lomond, and built his house on the Nile River, calling his property Patterdale, after a Westmorland village where he had once lived. Here he painted and with his family developed the property which eventually comprised more than 7000 acres (2833 ha) . By 1835 he was able to send sixty-eight pictures 'descriptive of the Scenery and Customs of Van Diemen's Land' for exhibition in London. In 1847 he exhibited in a collection assembled by the Launceston Mechanics' Institute, but in his last years devoted himself largely to religious literature and painted little. He died at Patterdale on 9 December 1849, survived by his sons and many grandchildren. His widow, Sarah, died at Patterdale on 19 November 1853, aged 95. In 1845 John Skinner Prout drew his portrait, later engraved and published by Basil Long.

Glover was highly prolific in water-colour but later turned increasingly to oil painting. Influenced by his teacher William Payne, he early perfected a technique of painting in grey tints with little colour, using a split brush for foliage, seeking subtle effects of light, mist and atmosphere. In Tasmania this interest in atmospheric effects continued but he also sought assiduously to depict qualities of the landscape. In the catalogue of his 1835 exhibition he noted: 'there is a remarkable peculiarity in the Trees of this Country; however numerous they rarely prevent you tracing through them the whole distant country'. But his strong links with the eighteenth century lingered. He wished to become known as the 'English Claude' and echoes of Claude, Gaspard Poussin and Salvator Rosa persist even in his Tasmanian work.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts, vol 3 (Lond, 1905)
  • B. Smith, European Vision and the South Pacific 1768-1850 (Oxford, 1960)
  • B. S. Long, ‘John Glover’, Walker's Quarterly, 15 (1924)
  • P. R. Eldershaw, ‘John Glover’, Papers and Proceedings (Tasmanian Historical Research Association), vol 12, no 1, Oct 1964, pp 37-39
  • S. Passioura, John Glover (M.A. thesis, University of Melbourne, in preparation)
  • correspondence file under J. Glover (Archives Office of Tasmania)
  • manuscript catalogue under J. Glover (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

Bernard Smith, 'Glover, John (1767–1849)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 19 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (Melbourne University Press), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

John Glover, attributed to Mary Morton Allport, c.1832

John Glover, attributed to Mary Morton Allport, c.1832

State Library of Tasmania, SD_ILS:85047

Life Summary [details]


18 February, 1767
Houghton-on-the-Hill, Leicestershire, England


9 December, 1849 (aged 82)
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Passenger Ship