This room includes the art of Viennese-born Eugene von Guérard who arrived in Australia in 1852 and who is arguably the most important colonial landscape artist of the mid-19th century. The National Gallery has an outstanding collection of his work including North-east view from the northern top of Mount Kosciusko which reveals his meticulous topographical accuracy, his interest in scientific endeavour and his sense of the sublime integral to the German Romantic tradition that shaped his art training.
Von Guérard was informed by an acute interest in the geography, geology and vegetation of the ‘new world’, evident in his famous Ferntree Gully in the Dandenong Ranges. His expeditions through Victoria’s Western District resulted in a remarkable group of works known as ‘homestead portraits’, which convey aspects of the economic, social and pastoral development of the colony.
By the 1880s the Australian Impressionists found joy in a sense of place. Arthur Streeton was a key figure in this development along with fellow artists Frederick McCubbin, Tom Roberts, Charles Conder and Louis Abrahams. Streeton’s Golden summer, Eaglemont is poetic in its approach to the local landscape, displaying the early signs of a new ‘national school’ of painting. He was also captivated by the jewel-like beauty of Sydney Harbour. In works such as From McMahon’s Point - fare one penny he showed the harbour city as both an emerging metropolis with new houses and ferry services and a magnificent natural environment.