Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Walking in the Artist’s Footsteps

Gordon Morrison, Director of Art Gallery of Ballarat opened the exhibition on Friday 16 December at 6pm.

Pictured right is Eugene von Guérard's 'Mount Langi from Pleasant Creek' (1871) from the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, on display at Ararat Regional Art Gallery until 12 February 2012.

An iconic painter of colonial Australia, Austria‐born Eugene von Guérard (1811–1901) is sometimes referred to as the ‘father of Australian landscape painting’. This year the National Gallery of Victoria marked the artist’s bicentenary with a major exhibition, ‘Eugene von Guérard: Nature Revealed’. Now Ararat Regional Art Gallery will see out this celebratory year with, 'Australian Landscapes: Eugene von Guérard in the Antipodes’, an Art Gallery of Ballarat Travelling Exhibition presented from 15 December 2011 to 12 February 2012. The exhibition chronicles Eugene von Guérard's peripatetic ways through an entire set of 24 magnificent lithographs from 1866‐67 which capture some of the most remarkable and spectacular parts of South Eastern Australia and Tasmania.

Augmenting this outstanding exhibition is an oil painting of immense local significance: Eugene von Guérard’s ‘Mount Langi from Pleasant Creek’ from 1871, which is on loan from the National Gallery of Victoria. ‘Mount Langi from Pleasant Creek’ is a rare document of the early period of settlement and expansion in our region. The painting features gold mining in the foreground and a sweeping vista of the Pyrenees ranges in the distance.

It seems that ‘Mount Langi from Pleasant Creek’ depicts a view of the Pyrenees Ranges from the Big Hill Lookout in Stawell, which was then known as Pleasant Creek. However, the painting was also previously known by the title, ‘The Gold Diggings at Ararat’, until research uncovered and reinstated its original title.

The questions remains: is the painting based on a view of Mount Langi Ghiran from Stawell or from elsewhere in the region? If it is a view from Stawell, did von Guérard bring forward the Pyrenees Ranges and condense the middle ground in order to maximise the painting’s picturesque qualities? Or did he source the scene from elsewhere in the region, perhaps a little closer to Ararat, as the painting’s previous title suggests?

The local community can assist in locating and photographing the vantage point from which von Guérard sourced this image. If you think you know where this view can be found, please contact Ararat Regional Art Gallery on 5352 2836 or gallery@ararat.vic.gov.au