Harry GARLICK, The drover Enlarge 1 /1


Orange, New South Wales, Australia 1878 – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1910

The drover 1906 Place made: New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas board

Primary Insc: signed and dated lower left in oil, 'Harry Garlick /06'.
Dimensions: 60.8 h x 45.4 w cm framed (overall) 811 h x 657 w x 72 d mm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1972
Accession No: NGA 72.135

Harry Garlick painted The drover in response to the ‘Federation drought’, which began in 1895 and reached its climax in the summer of 1901–02. Officially lasting until 1903, the drought had a devastating effect on the sheep, cattle and wheat-farming industries throughout much of Australia. Garlick had painted earlier responses to the drought, such as Drought stricken1902 (present whereabouts unknown). It is possible that The drover was painted in the Orange or Bathurst regions of western New South Wales where Garlick was born and lived until 1896. In the heat of the midday sun a drover leads his flock along an arid stock route, the artist’s use of perspective emphasising the distance between the drover and his flock and the hills on the horizon.

The drover is indicative of Garlick’s interest in pastoral scenes. As a young man he travelled each week from Orange to Bathurst to attend painting classes with Sydney painter Arthur Collingridge. After relocating to Sydney from Orange in 1896 he attended night classes with Julian Ashton, worked as a clerk and occasionally published drawings and cartoons in the Bulletin. Garlick was one of a number of artists, including Julian Ashton, Sydney Long, Charles Conder and Arthur Streeton, who visited Griffiths’s farm on the Richmond side of the Hawkesbury River on outdoor painting trips.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

The drover in this image suggests an idealised masculine heroism, with a strong yet quiet resilience in the face of hardship.

Harry Garlick painted The drover in response to the widespread impact on pastoral industries of what became known as the ‘Federation drought’, spanning the years 1895 to 1903. Like the faceless drover, the parched Australian landscape is intentionally non-specific, its colours bleached by exposure to the sharp heat of the bright Australian sun.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2013
From: Miriam kelly, Capital & Country: The Federation Years 1900 – 1913, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2013