A prospect of Chester and the River Dee from the South West oil on canvas 77.5 x 143cm (30 1/2 x 56 5/16in).
Property from a distinguished private Australian collection.
Provenance: M Bernard Gallery, London; Christies Australia, 14 March, 1974, lot 371; Private Collection, Melbourne; Christies Australia, 7 October, 1986, lot 269; Distinguished Private Collection, Sydney.
John Glover was best known in his early years as a watercolourist and he was a founding member of the Old Watercolour Society. The Leicestershire lad from Houghton-on-the-Hill worked as a drawing master until 1821, when he emigrated to Tasmania. As one of the first British artists to live and work there, he is remembered for his early record of landscapes and homesteads in the Antipodes.
Glovers oil paintings are thought to date from his middle and later life. While many show broad rural landscapes or the estates of commissioning patrons, this panorama of Chester is a view of an already great city in the early years of the 19th century. In 1829 Glover exhibited Chester at sunrise at the Royal Society of British Artists (no.277); we cannot know if this is the present work, or whether he had more than one Cheshire client who paid him to paint the historic city.
Glovers technique in this painting owes a debt to his years as a watercolour painter. He lays on colour with a light touch, delicately building up the thinly-applied colours.
Many of the historic buildings and the Old Dee bridge are shown as they still stand today. We can see Chester Castle and the Gaol, the Church of St Mary-on-the-Hill and the Shot Tower. Other buildings are no longer standing: the tower of St John's Church collapsed in 1881 and the Dee Mills were demolished in 1910. The industrial area on the river banks was known as Skinner's Yard, and the boats are a special type of shallow draft boats called Mersey flats. This area was demolished in 1830, in part to make way for The Grosvenor Bridge designed by Thomas Harrison.