My Harvest Home – painting the ‘new’ Australian landscape

No. 88

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Written on the back of this painting are the words: ‘My Harvest Home Vandiemens Land the Picture begun March 19th. 1835 the day the harvest was all got in’.

Only three years before, John Glover had established Patterdale Farm at Deddington in northern Tasmania after receiving a land grant of 2560 acres from the Tasmanian Government. My Harvest Home celebrates the farm’s success, representing a bountiful harvest, the possession of fertile land, and hence the artist’s newfound status as a gentleman farmer. The red-waistcoated figures in the foreground are convict labourers (a total of 12 convicts were assigned to the Glovers) whose free labour profited colonists until late into the 1800s.

Glover painted many scenes from his Deddington farm and although not all were as personal as this work, many presented a similarly joyful and dream-like perspective of Van Diemen’s Land. In 1836 My Harvest Home was sent to Britain on consignment with a number of other works which suggests that the artist intended to spread a positive message about life in the colony. While painting sales in England provided income for Glover, this particular painting did not sell and remained in England with his daughter and son-in-law until Glover’s death.

John Glover arrived in Hobart from England in 1831, aged 63. He is considered to be one of the finest Australian landscape painters of the early colonial period and is recognised as the first artist to faithfully capture the ‘new’ Australian landscape. In My Harvest Home, his keen observational skills are seen in the detail of distant eucalypts, the intense light of the setting sun, and the atmospheric effects created by the detailed cloud forms.

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