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One of the pages from the John Glover sketchbook sold for £65,000 at Ewbank’s.

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Glover arrived in Van Diemens Land, now Tasmania, on his 64th birthday.

He lived first in Hobart before securing large land grants at Mills Plains, Deddington where he settled, keeping a record of his difficult relationship with his neighbour John Batman, the bounty and Aboriginal hunter who co-founded Melbourne. Glover called Batman ‘the vilest man I have ever known’.

Glover had already served as president of the Old Water Colour Society in London but spent his final 18 years polishing his reputation by painting the Antipodean landscape.

The John Glover Society was established in 2001 to promote his memory and contribution to Australian art, with a statue to him unveiled two years later in Evandale, Tasmania. The Glover Prize, Australia’s richest award for landscape painting, is presented annually for the best views of Tasmania.

Early work

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The John Glover sketchbook sold for £65,000 at Ewbank’s.

One of Glover’s sketchbooks, started more than a decade before he emigrated, emerged for sale with sensational results at Ewbank’s (25% buyer’s premium) in Woking on June 17. Last sold at Sotheby’s in 1988, it was consigned for sale from a local deceased estate with a guide of £2000-3000.

The subject matter was chiefly Scottish: a range of subjects taken on a tour north of the border between August 30-October 27, 1817.

It included 10 full-page pencil, pen and ink and wash, sketches and approximately 80 others, some with three or four to a page. However, it was enough to spark a battle between Australian phone and online bidders that only ended at £65,000.

Glover’s finished pictures have made some impressive sums in recent years. At Sworders’ sale of contents from North Mymms in 2018, £94,000 was bid for an oil depicting The Beggar’s Oak – a celebrated tree that stood on Lord Bagot’s estate at Blithfield Hall in Staffordshire.

Pictures of Tasmania and the Australian mainland can bring six and even seven-figure sums.

Pages reused

The buyer of the sketchbook, a private collector, also purchased another lot of Australian interest in the Surrey sale: a group of six watercolours of an East Indiaman by the 19th century mariner Alexander Weynton (c.1827-61).

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A watercolour of the East Indiaman Windsor painted by Alexander Weynton c.1850-52 – one of six sold for £8500 at Ewbank’s.

Only when removed from their frames during cataloguing was it discovered these were painted on the back of pages from a ship’s diary penned during a voyage from England to Australia via Madras and Calcutta in 1850-52.

One is painted on what was the frontispiece of the logbook, giving details of the voyage on board the Windsor during which Weynton served as second mate under the command of WB Pryce Alexander.

Weynton completed a series of similar illustrated journals recording his voyages from 1841-60, including nine on the colonial run to Australia (the last under his own command in 1858).

The National Library of Australia has extensive Weynton holdings.

Although his knowledge of the colonies was not extensive, Weynton’s watercolours document the coastline, buildings and other features of original colonial settlements and record first-hand his experiences of the migration process.

While aboard the Windsor en route to Sydney, he began two journals; one for observations of daily life on board ship, the other a retrospective record of his earlier voyages. The pages here appear to come from the first of these (the other volume is in the National Library of Australia).

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The Weynton watercolours were painted on the back of pages from a ship’s log.

The six views, including one of the entrance to Port Jackson in Sydney Harbour with the ship in full sail, also show the Windsor in perilous waters surrounded by sea birds, as well as becalmed under glowering skies with, in one view, a shark swimming just below the surface. Another shows the Windsor setting sail off Beachy Head.

Consigned by a collector who acquired them from a local family, the lot improved on a guide of £600- 1000 to sell at £8500.