Born in Melbourne 1942, Jonathan Bowden spent his formative years in England. After taking a natural sciences degree at Cambridge, he studied art in London & exhibited there 1968-1980.

Since arriving in Australia in 1980 he has established a reputation as a profound & perceptive observer of the Australian landscape.

He works direct from nature, and each painting, whether in oil or pastel, involves many repeated visits to the same place at the same hour of the day until he has captured its essential character.

This method of working was pioneered by the English & French Impressionists & the artist studied their methods extensively before settling in Launceston Tasmania, where he now lives with his family.

Jonathan Bowden is a leading exponent of ‘broken colour’, a method of painting championed by the French Impressionists during the last part of the 19th century.
— Tony Smibert


Visions and satires and most of the portraits are painted in oil. The landscapes and still lives are largely in pastel, over a tempera base. This is very similar to the technique developed by De La Tour and Degas, and is one I have evolved to convey the quality of the Tasmanian light, which is at the same time brilliant and soft.

If you look closely at the surface of any Impressionist painting you will notice how it is built up from a myriad of small dots and strokes of colour which blend optically from a distance of a few feet away to produce an image. Pastel lends itself to this approach because most tones have to be blended.

Seen in close up the image dissolves into a web of colour; from further back the eye assembles an image and a sense of depth. This means that the image exists on two levels. One is an abstract language, a colour field alive and sensuous in its own right; the other is a vision of reality and the viewer is constantly moving between the two - like figure and ground - he cannot stay long in either. This is where I believe much of the power of Art is locked away, in a dance of ambiguity between surface and image.

Detail of Lemons, Moss & Stone, tempera, pastel on canvas, 1999

Detail of Lemons, Moss & Stone, tempera, pastel on canvas, 1999


  • 1942-60 Grew up in England, among a family of artist/scientists, most of whom took degrees in science (including myself) but generally ended up as painters, potters or sculptors. Educated Cambridge (Natural Sciences)
  • 1961- 64. Camberwell Arts School London
  • 1966-7; studied informally at the R.A. schools, the Courtauld collection, and Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
  • 1968-1971. Visited and studied the French and Spanish collections. (1970 to 1980)
  • Studied with Elizabeth Vellacott, a distinguished artist who was also a lifelong mentor and friend in England
  • 1970-1980 Exhibited Royal Academy, and National Portrait Gallery; also with the Lane Studio, London, a group of Academy trained figure painters.
  • Works acquired by the Hospitals collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, and The Brinsley ford Collection, London.
  • 1980 Arrived in Australia, Holdsworth Galleries, Sydney, Painters Gallery, Barry Stern Gallery


1981 Sir John Sulman Prize AGNSW

1986 Evandale gallery, Tasmania (solo)

1987-8 Freeman gallery, Hobart (solo)

1988 Sulman and Archibald exhibitions AGNSW

1989-1994 Salamanca collection (solo)

1990-2000 Holdsworth galleries Woollahra.

1990-2000 Design Centre, Launceston.

1992 Agnews, London;  Battersea Arts Centre, London

1994 Petworth house series, Sussex, England

2000 to 2003 Raglan Galleries, Sydney (solo)

2005 Royal Exhibition Centre, Melbourne

2007-8 Exhibited Tree and Sky series, and 'Water and Stone'

2007-8 Jenny Pihan fine Art Melbourne (solo)

2008 to 2017 Private Gallery, artists studio, 2 Morley road.

2015- 2017 Rosevears Art Gallery, Rosevears

2016 Leoni Duff Studios

2018 Cradle Mountain Wilderness Gallery


Craft Arts International, 1990 to 2001

Australian Artist, International Pastel artist 1988 to 1998

A Letter from Tasmania, published 2007