I’ve now been 3 times to the Eugene von Guérard exhibition, Nature Revealed, at the Queensland Art Gallery, partly because it’s free, I admit, but mostly because it’s so compelling. It finishes on 5 March, so if you live in Brisbane, hurry. And, if you’re my age, bring your reading glasses.
Everyone brought up in Australia knows a few von Guérard paintings, even if they don’t know that they know them. He is widely represented in the National Gallery of Victoria, where he was curator from 1870, and the National Gallery of Australia, and in other galleries, particularly in Victoria where he did most of his work.
He painted landscapes: flat plains, the strange mountain formations of the volcanic Western District, or the dark and claustrophobic forests of the Dandenong Ranges. The action often takes place in a shadowy foreground, while the background glows in the sunshine.
I already knew many of his paintings from books, but I have seldom experienced before so sharply the need to see the original rather than rely on reproductions, because no matter how large the canvas, or the subject matter, von Guérard seems to have approached his painting with the eye – and the brush – of a miniaturist. Continue reading