Works included in this catalogue
Dowling George Evans {1886} NGV [PA]
Dowling A Sheikh and his son 1874 {1878} NGV [PA]
Dowling after Partridge Lord Melbourne 1884 {1884} NGV [PA]
Dowling Sir Henry Brougham Loch 1886 {1890} SLV [PA]

Dowling migrated to Tasmania with his family as a child, in 1834. He is best known now for the paintings he made during the earlier part of his career in Tasmania, several of them acquired later for the NGV, notably the haunting Tasmanian Aborigines (1856-7; purchased in 1949).

In 1857, with financial support from friends and admirers, he relocated to England, where he led a long and successful career, showing regularly at the Royal Academy. In 1884, he returned to Australia, completing several of the portraits listed above, and also a fine portrait of art critic James Smith (1884; SLV, donated in 1910): for a reproduction, see the linked entry on Smith.

He was the subject of an NGA exhibition in 2010-11, emphasizing his significance as Australia’s first major locally-trained artist.


For Dowling, see in particular John Jones, Robert Dowling: Tasmanian Son of Empire, Canberra: NGA, 2010. See also Kerr Dictionary (1992), pp.217-19 (also by John Jones); Bénézit 4, p.1125 and AKL 29 (2001), pp.253-54 (entry by R.Smith; with further references); and McDonald, Art of Australia vol.1 (2008), pp.225-32

For the other works by Dowling in the NGV, refer the gallery’s online catalogue