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Exhibition of One of Australia's Most Renowned and Eminent Landscape Artists Opens in Melobourne
Eugene von Guérard, Tower Hill 1855, oil on canvas, 68.6 x 122.0 cm. Warrnambool Art Gallery, Victoria. On loan from the Department of Sustainability and Environment. Gift of Mrs. E. Thornton, 1966.

MELBOURNE.- The National Gallery of Victoria opened Eugene von Guérard: Nature Revealed, a superb exhibition which takes an in depth look, for the first time in over 30 years, at one of Australia’s most renowned and eminent landscape artists, Eugene von Guérard (1811-1901).

Dr Gerard Vaughan, Director, NGV said: “Eugene von Guérard: Nature Revealed is a star feature of the NGV’s 150th anniversary year and it’s a great honour to have present von Guérard’s great, great granddaughter, Dr Harriet Buckley, who resides in the UK.

“On loan from the von Guérard family and on display for the very first time are two sketchbooks which document the Sicilian expedition von Guérard and father Bernard von Guérard (1771–1836) made in 1834. One sketchbook is perhaps von Guérard’s earliest, and the second sketchbook belonged to his artist-father, Bernard von Guérard.

“This fascinating exhibition takes a fresh look at the remarkable contribution Australia’s most distinguished landscape artist made to Melbourne’s developing arts culture in his role as the inaugural Curator and Master of the School of Painting at the NGV. In 2011 we also celebrate the anniversary of 200 years of von Guérard’s birth date,” said Dr Vaughan.

This exhibition features over 150 works, including many of von Guérard’s beloved iconic landscapes such as Northeast view from the northern top of Mt Kosciuszko, Tower Hill, Mt William and part of the Grampians in West Victoria, and Ferntree Gully in the Dandenong Ranges, as well as several beautifully illustrated sketch books, and some never-before-seen paintings.

Dr Ruth Pullin, Guest Curator, NGV said: “Von Guérard’s impressive landscapes offer great insight into the expeditions of which he was a part. The microscopic detail, accuracy and the scientifically-informed perspective that characterise von Guérard’s great Australian landscapes grew out of his experiences in Italy and Germany.

“His geologically-informed portrayals of the Western District reflect his studies of the volcanic geology of the German Eifel. Von Guérard’s perceptive recognition of the significance of the volcanic Western Plains and its geology has taken on particular contemporary relevance with the region being given global geopark status by UNESCO (Kanawinka Geopark),” Dr Pullin said.

Von Guérard’s experience in Düsseldorf as an open air painter encouraged his close observation of the details and the diversity of the natural world. Many works discovered in the course of the research leading up to this exhibition will be on display for the first time.

“In particular von Guérard was inspired by the great German natural scientist Alexander von Humboldt, to travel to the New World of Australia and undertake intrepid expeditions, often into remote and inaccessible regions of Australia’s south eastern colonies. On some of these, he travelled with scientists such as the German geophysicist, Georg von Neumayer. Their expedition to the top of Mount Kosciuszko transformed von Guérard’s records of the geology and topography of the region, into some of the most sublime expressions of the Australian landscape in the history of Australian art,” said Dr Pullin.

Michael Varcoe-Cocks, Conservator & Exhibition Co-Curator, NGV said: “This exhibition has provided the opportunity for an unprecedented conservation program to be carried out on important works by von Guérard. The technical research associated with these treatments has revealed exciting new discoveries into the history of the paintings and a unique insight to the artist’s studio methods.

“Over the last three years, the conservation work that many of the paintings and their frames have undergone, will enable viewers to see and experience the works as von Guérard intended.

“Based on von Guérard’s precise observations of nature, this exhibition also highlights how his works are increasingly recognised as important environmental and historical records,” said Mr Varcoe-Cocks.

Eugene von Guérard: Nature Revealed is on display from 16 April to 7 August 2011 at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Open daily 10am–5pm. Admission fees apply.

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