Swiss-born and trained, Louis Buvelot specialised in painting scenes of the countryside close to Melbourne. Arriving in Victoria in 1865, Buvelot’s paintings of settled, domesticated land appealed to city dwellers and pastoralists alike, and he quickly established a successful career as a landscape painter.1 Admired by his contemporaries, Buvelot differed to earlier colonial artists by attempting to create a more naturalistic image of the Australian bush. Compared to the meticulous observation of Eugene von Guérard, Buvelot’s approach was much freer. Moving away from grand scenes and sweeping views, he used softly dabbed brushstrokes and an earthier palette to depict the land as a known and familiar place.
In Near Lilydale Buvelot shows the new life and rejuvenation of springtime. A lamb – symbolising the season of spring – follows two women making their way through the landscape. Fresh green grass grows from the damp earth and blue skies are reflected in the surface of the water. Using a basic palette of browns and greens Buvelot skilfully creates the tones observed in the landscape, a subtle gradation between grasses, trees and earth.
1 Tim Bonyhady, Australian colonial paintings in the Australian National Gallery, Canberra: Australian National Gallery, 1986, pp. 15–17.