GILL, Samuel Thomas (1818 - 1880)
Watercolour, 220 x 335 mm, signed lower left S.T.G. and inscribed in pencil ‘Xmas ’67’ inscribed ‘Baby’ lower right, light scattered foxing, otherwise fine. Framed.
By the 1860s S. T. Gill was a famed local artist, returning to Melbourne in 1864 after a period in Sydney. Gill’s depictions of life on the Victorian goldfields in the 1850s had struck a chord with the public, and by this period he was largely living off commissions, a livelihood somewhat hampered by his excessive drinking habits. He had twelve watercolours represented in the Intercolonial Exhibition in Melbourne in 1866, and was known for his characterisation of people in daily life, sometimes with a humorous or caricaturist dimension. It is not know who the identity of ‘Baby’ is, perhaps a girl Gill met at one of the bars he frequented in Melbourne, perhaps someone special to him. Well dressed, wearing a gold watch and reclining on an expensive chaise lounge, she appears to someone of some importance. The inscription ‘Xmas ’67’ in pencil implies the watercolour was a gift, possibly to the sitter.
Baby is a significant colonial portrait by one of Australia’s key artists of the nineteenth century, and was retained by esteemed art dealer Dr. Joseph Brown for his personal collection, which represented the high points of Australian art. It is reproduced in the book published on his art collection, and was sold at the single-owner auction of his art collection in 2005, retained by a private collector until his passing in 2019.
Private collection, Melbourne
Christies, Paintings From The Dr Joseph Brown Collection, Melbourne, 17/05/2005, Lot No. 86
Dr. Joseph Brown, personal collection
Outlines of Australian art : the Joseph Brown collection. New York : Harry N. Abrams, 1989, plate 39, illustrated.