Go back in time with Queensland’s commanding ‘Glengallan’ sideboard

 

The ‘Glengallan’ sideboard 1868 is one of Queensland’s most significant examples of heritage furniture. While the backboard depicts the national symbols of an emu and a kangaroo, the inclusion of the lorikeet and pineapple give it a more local flavour.

The carving is attributed to Matthew Fern, who was appointed the first instructor of wood carving at Brisbane Technical College in 1895. An 1868 press report from The Brisbane Courier records the first showing of the sideboard:

It is satisfactory to know that our beautiful indigenous timbers are coming into favour for cabinet work. We had the pleasure yesterday of inspecting [at] Mr. Ebenston’s … a drawing and dining-room suite of furniture, of Queensland woods and Brisbane manufacture and made to order for Mr. John Deschar [sic], Glengallan station, Darling Downs …

Glengallan sideboard

Joshua Ebenston, Australia c.1835-77; Matthew Fern, Australia 1831-98 / ‘Glengallan’ sideboard 1868 / Cedar, carved / 198 x 242 x 70cm / Purchased 1995 with funds from the Australian Decorative & Fine Arts Society (Brisbane) Inc. through and with the assistance of the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation and the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant. Celebrating the Queensland Art Gallery’s Centenary 1895-1995 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

Glengallan Run

Glengallan is located in the Southern Downs Region, near Warwick, Queensland. The valley was named by explorer Allan Cunningham (1791-1839) in 1827 in honour of the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Ralph Darling (1775-1858), the name Darling Downs used to identify the surrounding region.

In 1839 Patrick Leslie (1815-1881) was the first pioneer to establish a European presence on the Darling Downs setting out from Sydney in search of new land to settle, the first wave of pastoral activity in Queensland. Leslie followed Cunningham’s trail to the Darling Downs and decided on an area of land for his first station. Hi brother Walter followed with the flocks, and in 1840 the Leslie brothers (Patrick, Walter and George) became the first settlers on the Darling Downs.

The Leslies originally selected a parcel of land which became Toolburra, South Toolburra, Glengallan, Gladfield, Maryvale, Warwick and Canning Downs, and had taken up a far greater area than which they were entitled under a New South Wales licence. The area known as Glengallan was a pastoral run they sold off in 1841-42.

In late 1851 the Sydney-based painter Conrad Martens (1801–78) arrived in Brisbane from Sydney via sea, and for the next few months travelled on horseback across the Great Dividing Range to the Darling Downs, moving south through New England to Sydney. En route he stayed with squatters and pastoralists, filling his sketchbooks with drawings of their houses and properties, his aim being to obtain commissions for watercolours that he would complete upon his return to Sydney. These drawings are some of the few illustrations of Queensland during this time, and his sketches of Glengallan show the station as two timber buildings surrounded by verandahs and situated close together.

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Pencil sketch by Conrad Martens of Mount Sturt from Glengallan. March 4, 1852 / nvg8Nrp1 / Collection: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales / The sketch was used as the basis for the watercolour The bark hut on the plain, Darling Downs, Qld., Mount Sturt from Glengallan c.1952

The bark hut on the plain, Darling Downs, Qld., Mount Sturt from Glengallan

Conrad Martens, England/Australia 1801-78 / The bark hut on the plain, Darling Downs, Qld., Mount Sturt from Glengallan c.1852 / Watercolour and gouache / Purchased 2014 with funds from the Honourable John C Moore, AO, through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
Pencil sketch by Conrad Martens of Glengallan. C.Marshall Esq. Decr. 31. 1856 / nvg8Nrp1 / Collection: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

By 1855 John Deuchar (1820-1872) went into partnership with Charles Henry Marshall (1818-1874) on Glengallan Run and during their partnership established the famous Glengallan Merino flock and Shorthorn stud. By 1864 the Glengallan Station complex expanded to two houses, stables and a kitchen, and by 1867 Glengallan Run occupied 66% of the total run area available in the Downs.

Glengallan Homestead was built between 1867-68 with a gala opening party held on 16 September 1868. The ‘Glengallan’ sideboard is part of a suite of furniture for the ground floor drawing and dining rooms, made in local materials by a local cabinet maker Ebenstons, who had premises in Brisbane.

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Glengallan Homestead

Glengallan Homestead Drawing Room, c.1897 / 47304 / Courtesy: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Brisbane 
Restored Drawing Room at the Glengallan Homestead and Heritage Centre / Courtesy: Tourism Queensland
Glengallan Homestead, c.1875 / 16880 / Courtesy: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Brisbane
Glengallan Homestead, c.1897 / 47300 / Courtesy: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Brisbane
View from Glengallan Homestead, c.1885 / APO-014-0001-0003 / Courtesy: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Brisbane

Additional research and supplementary material by Elliott Murray, Senior Digital Marketing Officer, QAGOMA based on QAGOMA curatorial research.

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