Grandfathers visit, Robert Hawker Dowling
    Robert Hawker Dowling
  • Born
  • Died
  • Title
    Grandfathers visit
  • Date of Production
  • Medium
    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions
    74.0 x 64.0 cm
  • Credit Details
    Purchased, 1975

Robert Hawker Dowling

Grandfathers visit

One of the first people to train as an artist in Australia,  Dowling was taught by a number of local artists in Tasmanian including Thomas Bock.  In 1856 he returned to England to pursue his ambition to become recognized on a wider stage than was possible in the colonies.

Grandfather's visit was one of four works that Dowling painted shortly after his arrival in London.  The artist sent this group of paintings out to Launceston in 1866 to be raffled at an Art Union.  Reflecting the taste of the period for narrative scenes developed out of domestic subjects, Dowling has depicted a nursing mother seated in front of an old man, who has dropped his top hat onto the floor near a cradle, in order to take hold of his grandchild.  An elderly woman, possibly the grandmother, stands alongside the young woman, but the rapt focus of  attention of all three adults is on the new addition to the family.   While  this is a celebration of a family's continuity over three generations, the scene also poses a question about the absence of the father, which can only be answered by the imagination of the viewer.