John Glover and the Colonial Picturesque
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, $69.95hb, 312pp
John McPhee put John Glover in the picture, identifying him as the foreground figure with sketchbook sharing our view of the Tamar River at Launceston. David Hansen saw that Glover marked his Hobart Town house in special colour at the centre of a distant panorama of the town, the viewpoint for which is across the Derwent in a sportive scene of Indigenous Tasmanians at Kangaroo Point. For that work, the artist’s point of view (and ours) doubles with that of the Tasmanians, and the artist, looking at the neat settlement under frowning Mt Wellington, sees himself in it. I like the verbal image, which joins the painter to the scholar in viewing a work and imagines the artist as one who searches for meaning. It may not correspond with the deep perspective of art history, however, and the authors of John Glover and the Colonial Picturesque have preferred to look back with hindsight. An intriguing aspect of this gentle, though magisterial, text is what the writers saw.