As a child, John Glover worked in the fields near Ingersby, where he also drew birds and became a passionate lover of nature. He took lessons in painting in London from the landscape painter William Payne.
In 1786 Glover received the position of a writing master at the Free School in Appleby, Westmoreland (now Cumbria). During that time he often travelled to London to visit exhibitions. In 1794 he moved to Lichfield, Staffordshire, where he earned a living as a painting and drawing master. He continued to visit London, where he had a chance to meet Dr. Thomas Monro. He was a celebrated physician and expert who encouraged the talent of many young artists, including Thomas Girtin, John Varley, Joshua Cristall and J.M.W. Turner.
Glover experimented with watercolour portrait, however, he achieved no real success in it. Concurrently, he also created a series of etchings, the earliest dated example was Docks of 1797, the latest a river landscape dated 1809. During the time he spent in Lichfield, John Glover developed his life-long habit of travelling to both widely-known and obscure beauty spots, searching for subject matter for his paintings. He created hundreds of sketches during these trips, which were worked up into watercolours and, later, oil paintings for an exhibition at the Royal Academy.
After John Glover moved to London in 1805, he exhibited with the Society of Painters in Watercolour. The huge success of the exhibit, and especially of Glover’s watercolours, assured his popularity and fame as a watercolourist and instructor in this medium and made him a serious rival to his contemporaries. Glover served as the president of the society during 1807-1808. He supported its dissolution and the formation of the Society of Painters in Oil and Watercolours in November 1812.
In addition to his numerous trips to the Lake District of England, John Glover travelled to France and Germany in 1814, and again to the Continent in 1817 when, accompanied by Henry Curzon Allport, he visited Italy. On April 24, 1820, the artist founded his own gallery at 16 Old Bond Street, London. He had solo shows in London in 1823 and 1824. He was a very successful artist and his reputation stood very high within the public. Yet, by the late 1820s, Glover’s popularity was waning and the paintings he exhibited at the Society of British Artists were criticized.
After selling his house and numerous paintings, John Glover with his family left England in 1830, settling in Hobart Town. There he purchased a farm at Tea Tree Brush near Brighton and a house in Melville Street, Hobart. Glover soon returned to sketching and painting. His first Australian paintings were presented in London at the 1832 Society of British Artists Exhibition and drew much attention.
In 1835 Glover showed sixty-eight of his paintings at 106 New Bond Street, London. Thirty-eight were "descriptive of the scenery and customs of the inhabitants of Van Diemen’s Land"; the others were of English and Italian subjects painted from the more than 140 sketchbooks he had brought with him. Later the artist painted less and less, because of the problems with his eyesight.
A corroboree of natives in Mills Plains
My last view of Italy, looking from the alps over Suza
At Matlock - mist rising
Launceston and the river Tamar
My Harvest Home
View in north Wales
A Corroboree in Van Diemen's Land
Mount Wellington and Hobart Town from Kangaroo Point
The bath of Diana, Van Diemen's Land
Natives on the Ouse River, Van Diemen's Land
The Island of Madeira
Hobart Town, taken from the garden where I lived
Ullswater, early morning
Sandown Bay, from near Shanklin Chine, Isle of Wight
A view of the artist's house and garden, in Mills Plains, Van Diemen's Land
Ben Lomond from Mr Talbot’s Property – four men catching opposums
Landscape view in Cumberland
Mr Robinson's house on the Derwent, Van Diemen's Land
Patterdale landscape with cattle
Appleby Magna Church
Lock Katrine, Scotland
A farmhouse with outbuildings beside a stream at sunset
Figures by a farmstead with cattle resting in the foreground
View of Llangollen, Wales
Artist's Horse 10 Yards Distance
Cattle and Figures in an English Countryside
Llanberis, Dolbadern and Snowdown, Wales
Valle Crucis Abbey
South Wingfield Manor
Loch Coruisk, Isle of Skye
Three Men on a Boat, Derwent River
In 1805 John Glover became a member of the Royal Watercolour Society. Glover submitted for membership of the Royal Academy but was scathingly rejected with references to his "annual manufactory." In 1823 he became a founding member of the Society of British Artists.
Physical Characteristics: He was a great walker, despite the handicap of a massive body (he was over 6 feet [182 cm] tall and very heavy) and club feet.
John Glover was married to Mary Glover. Together they parented one son, John Richardson Glover. Then he remarried Sarah Young, a woman nine years his senior. The couple produced four daughters, Anne Glover, Sarah Glover, Emma Bowles, Mary Bowles, and four sons, William Glover, Thomas Glover, Henry Glover, James Glover.