Thomas Bowler became a famous colonial landscape artist in the early 19th century and used the canvas to record events during the colonial era in South Africa. Bowler was a self-taught landscape painter, originally from England, who lived in the Cape of Good Hope for 35 years. He published a series of views of Cape Town and the surrounding areas such as Stellenbosch, Hout Bay, Wynberg, Cape Point, Robben Island and the coast of Cape Town. His chief merit is the role of pictorial historian of Cape society in the pre-photographic era, as a recorder of every important event, from laying the first stone of the Table Bay breakwater to the arrival of the confederate raider, Alabama.
Bowler arrived in Cape Town in 1834 at the age of 21 and was initially employed as an assistant to the Royal Astronomer of the Observatory, which he also painted quite often, but soon acquired independence as an artist. Bowler, through his art, created a detailed record of many important event in the Cape’s colonial history.
Ellerman House in Cape Town, open exclusively to guests, has over 20 original watercolour artworks in the Bowler Passage depicting the Cape and surroundings as seen by Bowler from ships entering the harbour to a panoramic of the Winelands area.
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