For the past four years I've been studying Australia's most recognisable colonial artist – Samuel Thomas Gill (1818 - 1880). My interest was first drawn by an historical controversy that hit the mainstream media in 2016. I was looking for a fresh research challenge and the period and place suited my interests. I ended up writing a 10 episode blog. I was brave and also blissfully unaware of what I didn't know. I had a lot to learn. But I was fascinated.
Four years on ... standing on the shoulders of Gill authorities – Sasha Grishin, Ron Appleyard, Barbara Fargher, Ron Radford, Keith Macrae Bowden and others ... benefitting from the cataloguing and online availablility of the major holders of works – state and national libraries and galleries and Trove ... and now reaching further. I've embraced time and technology, taking a forensic and even archaeological approach. Some may wonder if this is obsessive, but the time and the method has born fruit, and my engagement keeps growing.
I've discovered many fascinating stories behind Gill and his art and look forward to telling them in due course. (I'm not sure when, how and where.) They will bring us a deeper understanding of the artist at work; his ingenuity, innovation, cleverness, industriousness and persistence.
I also intend to share my data – mostly at the end of this project – but I also expect to release some as I go.
My focus is on S.T. Gill's life and work from his arrival in South Australia in 1839 up to his early time at the Victorian gold rush in 1852-53.
Below are some of my interim writings relating to Gill.
2019-01-22 Faking It: Sturt's Overland Expedition leaving Adelaide, 10th August 1844
Painting attributed to Colonial Artist S.T. Gill is a Likely Forgery (2,500 words)
2016 Blog: S.T. Gill | 10 episodes in 100 days
History Controversy adds Intrigue to Colonial Art Exhibition
Was the ARTIST a FORGER?
FREE SETTLER or CONVICT?
Fresh Original Research into the Colonial Artist S. T. Gill.
Detail packed, so maybe not a bedtime read. Researched and written under pressure exerted by effluxion of time, an art exhibition and an historical controversy. (It got me started on S.T. Gill.)
As part of my research on S.T. Gill, so far I've georeferenced more than 100 Adelaide paintings, including this one from 1848 held by @agsa_adelaide : https://t.co/BFrQnXWBz2— david coombe history ???? (@coombeidau) May 22, 2020
I bet Bourke Street, Melbourne is quieter this forenoon. Here it is chaotic in 1864.— david coombe history ???? (@coombeidau) May 7, 2020
This research is published solely using a @TroveAustralia list that links the newspaper article illustrated by @Artist_S_T_Gill and a rare printer's block in @nma.