Houghton on the Hill, England
English landscape painter John Glover, known for his watercolors, enjoyed a successful career and then at the age of sixty-three followed three of his sons and immigrated to Tasmania (an island off Australia’s south coast), where he painted some of his best works. Glover was born in the village of Houghton on the Hill (near Leicester in the East Midlands) in 1767, the son of a farming couple. Being skilled in calligraphy, around 1786 he was employed as a writing master at a school in Appleby. He began painting and took lessons from William Payne (ca. 1760-1830) in London. Glover married Sarah Young (1758-1853), who was nine years older than he, in 1790. They moved to Litchfield (in Staffordshire, north of Birmingham) in 1794, where Glover taught painting and created landscapes in watercolor. He also painted watercolors used as book illustrations, such as the imaginary “View of the Apennines” in the Museum’s collection, published in “Mysteries of Udolpho” by the Gothic novelist Mrs. Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823). During the late 1790s he took numerous sketching trips to various parts of Britain. Glover began exhibiting at London’s Royal Academy in 1795, continuing until 1804 when he was a founder of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours. The Society’s first exhibition the following year was a great success, leading Glover to move to London. He was elected president of the Society in 1807 and was able to sell his watercolors at high prices. His growing interest in oil painting probably contributed to the reconstitution of the Society in 1812 as the Society of Painters in Oils and Water-Colours, but he resigned in 1817, probably hoping to be elected to the Royal Academy. Visiting Paris in 1814 after the initial defeat of Napoleon (1769-1821), he won a gold medal at the Salon for a landscape painting. The economic slowdown following the end of the Napoleonic Wars probably damaged the market for his watercolors, leading Glover to leave London the Lake District in 1817, although he had sufficient resources to travel to Switzerland and Italy in 1818. By 1820 he was back in London, where he mounted a series of lucrative exhibitions of his works in a location on Old Bond Street. Glover was a founder of the Society of British Artists in 1823, and exhibited with that group until 1830. Three of his sons immigrated to Tasmania in 1829. The following year Glover auctioned most of his paintings, sold his London house and with his wife and his eldest son followed his other sons, arriving in Hobart, Tasmania on April 1, 1831. One source records that he brought 60,000 pounds sterling with him. In 1832 he was granted 2560 acres of land on the Nile River, where he built a home. His family’s holdings eventually grew to over 7,000 acres. Glover resumed painting, and in 1835 sent 68 paintings “descriptive of the Scenery and Customs of Van Diemen’s Land” (as Tasmania was then known as) to London for exhibition and sale. He gave two paintings to King Louis Philippe of France (1773-1850) in 1840. With deteriorating eyesight Glover painted very little in his later years, devoting himself to reading religious works. He showed works by him in an exhibition in Launceston, Tasmania, in 1847. He died in 1849 at his home. (TNB 5/2015) Selected bibliography: Smith, Bernard. “Glover, John (1767-1849).” Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 1, (MUP) 1966.