The Australianness of the English Claude: nation and empire in the art of John Glover
The recent exhibition of John Glover's art, /o/m Glover and the Colonial Picturesque (Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 2003), curated by David Hansen, provides an opportunity for not only the revaluation of Glover's art but also the discourses of nationalism and empire that have largely organised thinking about Australian art until now, and are currendy reorganising it under the rubric of postcolonialism. Clover's art is uniquely placed as a window on the aesthetic imperatives of nationalism and the relationship between empire and setter art—particularly between English art and its Australian colonial offspring. Glover is the most accomplished and famous European artist ever to have settled permanently in a colony, having developed a considerable reputation during his first sixty years in England before migrating to Australia in 1830. Further, Glover is the only artist to have earned the reputation for inaugurating two national schools of art. Early nineteenth-century English criucs claimed he was the first artist to properly picture the British countryside and in the process create a genuine British school of art. In the late twentieth century, long after the British had forgotten their initial infatuation with Glover and fallen for Constable instead, Australian curators claimed Glover was the first artist to have mastered the look of the Australian bush, and so laid the foundation stone for a genuine Australian school of painting.