Mr Robinson’s house on the Derwent, Van Diemen’s Land is one of John Glover’s most magical landscapes, and his earliest and loveliest portrait of a country house. With the light rising from the hills in the distance, radiating over the water and glistening on the leaves in the trees, the scene resembles an Arcadia – a blessed place. Glover shows that he was captivated by this new world where he arrived in 1831. His curly trees are not an affectation, but seem almost animated. The sky is luminescent, the encircling hills are drenched in warm sunlight, and majestic eucalypts stand as witness to the artist’s wonder at and respect for Australia.
Glover based the painting on a pencil drawing in the sketchbook (no. 102) that he began on 19 December 1834. The site is beside the Derwent Estuary at Glenorchy on the outskirts of Hobart. The substantial double-stoned colonial house with airy Australian verandas opening onto expansive grounds belonged to a Mr Robinson. The view looks eastward towards Hobart with the peak of Collins Cap visible in the centre and, on the left, the northern base of Mount Wellington.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008