Collection Online

The River Nile, Van Diemen's Land, from Mr Glover's farm

oil on canvas
76.4 × 114.6 cm
Place/s of Execution
Mills Plains, Tasmania
Accession Number
Australian Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1956
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Vizard Foundation
Gallery location
Gallery 5
Level 2, NGV Australia
About the work

When John Glover sailed from England for Hobart Town in 1830, he was 63 years old and had already had a long and successful career as a landscape painter back in England. He was challenged by the different Australian landscape and began drawing it as soon as he set foot in the country.

In this painting, Glover has depicted an Arcadian landscape based on the view from his farm, where Tasmanian Aboriginal people are seen enjoying an idyllic life in harmony with nature. His aim may have been to record a vanishing way of life, as the reality for Tasmanian Aboriginal people at that time was in stark contrast to the scene portrayed in the painting. Encounters between early colonisers and the original inhabitants of Tasmania were often characterised by violent conflict.

Glover’s work in Tasmania continued to reflect many of the conventions of classical landscape painting, which led to some assertions that he saw his adopted land through European eyes. However, he showed a dedication to faithfully recording the unique features of Indigenous foliage and geology, and his paintings are imbued with a sense of air and dazzling light that are unmistakably Australian.


The River Nile, Van Diemen's Land, from Mr Glover's farm 1837
Reproduction (after William Wilson)

Wooden chassis with cast composition moulding.  Surface gilded and toned.

The River Nile, Van Diemen's Land, from Mr Glover's farm 1837

This painting appears in an old black and white photograph in a plain, shallow scotia moulding, possibly gilded, of ambiguous date.  Simple frames like this appear on paintings in the 19th century. The correspondence from A. J. L. McDonnell at the time of purchase in London makes no reference to the frame on the painting.  McDonnell was aware of frames and would likely have commented if the painting had an original frame.

In the mid 1990s The River Nile, Van Diemen’s Land, from Mr Glover’s farm was reframed in a bevelled timber frame faced with thick rosewood veneer (see image above). The veneered frame was in part based on correspondence from 1833 related to the transportation of Glover’s paintings to London, with frames made by his son, John Richardson Glover.

The decision to reframe the painting again – just 10 years later reflected the increasing awareness of the frames used on paintings by Glover augmented by the exhibition that toured Australia in 2004.

The frame used as the prototype to build a reproduction frame for the painting was made by the Tasmanian frame maker William Wilson and found on Glover’s Swilker Oak, in the collection of Clarendon Homestead, Launceston, Tasmania.  Two reproductions of this frame were made, the other used on Glover’s A Mountain torrent (2004.179).

Moulds of the ornaments were taken from a Wilson frame in a private collection and the Wilson frame on William Pritchard Weston by Robert Dowling in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston.