Even after the artist expanded his practice from watercolour to oil in the 1810s, the landscape of Cumberland and Westmoreland remained a favourite subject. In semi-retirement from around 1818 he even leased a farm near the village of Patterdale at the head of Ullswater, and after his migration to Australia in 1831 named his Van Diemen’s Land pastoral property 'Patterdale Farm'.
The present painting is highly characteristic of the artist's mature work, not only by virtue of its subject matter but also in its somewhat conventional (indeed, by the 1820s, even retardetaire) Claudian composition as well as in its delicate gloaming light, with associated roseate clouds and sun-gilt waters. In the 'landscape chiaroscuro' darkness of the foreground, the close attention to bracken and other ground cover and the split-brush treatment of arboreal foliage are typical, as is the staffage of peasants, goats and the artist's omnipresent cows.
To date it has not been possible to connect this work securely to documented pictures, but Glover exhibited two versions of Ullswater, from Gobray Park in his self-managed Bond Street solo exhibitions of 1822–24, one of these (or another) with the newly-established Society of British Artists in 1824, and again (or another) in his pre-emigration sale of 1831.
We are grateful to Ass. Prof. David Hansen, Centre for Art History and Art Theory, Australian National University, for providing this catalogue entry. Professor Hansen is the author of John Glover and the Colonial Picturesque, Hobart: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 2003.
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