Born Devonshire, England 1818, arrived South Australia 1839, died Melbourne 1880
Samuel Gill accompanied his father, a Baptist minister, to South Australia in 1839. A painter in London, he continued to pursue this vocation in Adelaide, recording street views and the surrounding landscape throughout the 1840s. These paintings, along with his watercolours documenting the construction of Port Adelaide, are invaluable as a visual account of colonial times.
His images of copper mining and sheep shearing were the first artistic records of such events in Australia. Other subjects included the Victorian goldfields, the 1846 Horrocks’ expedition, local buildings, portraits, Indigenous members of the population and sporting activities.
Gill’s depictions of colonial life underpinned the development of the Australian bush myth. Explorers, bushrangers and stockmen were later woven into the general vernacular of Australia’s identity through the paintings of Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin and John Longstaff.
The Art Gallery of South Australia held a major retrospective of Gill’s work in 1986 and his work was included in The Great Australian Art Exhibition 1788–1988, Art Gallery of South Australia and touring all state galleries (1988–89). Examples of his paintings, drawings and prints are held at the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery, Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, National Library of Australia, State Library of New South Wales, and the State Library of Victoria.