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Although a genius, Courbet was certainly a magnet for trouble. No other artist in nineteenth-century France so often found himself surrounded by controversy, apart from Edouard Manet – although Manet extricated himself, while Courbet seemed constantly enmeshed in scandal and uproar. But he was also firmly connected to the best artists working in th…
 
Two men on a hillside, standing on a stony outcrop, look at the crescent moon shining in a luminous sky. Framed between a strong, sinuous oak and an angular, spiky pine, the younger man leans on his companion’s shoulder, as though overcome by beauty. These are not detached scientific observers scrutinising a lunar phenomenon, but witnesses of God’s…
 
… this amazing mountain continues to exhibit such various scenes of sublimity and beauty at exactly the distance one would chuse to observe it from; a distance which almost admits examination, and certainly excludes immediate fear … columns of flame, high as the mountain’s self, shoot from its crater into the clear atmosphere with a loud and violen…
 
This is a devotional image, paying homage to science, Nature and God. Huge in its pictorial implications, the painting is nonetheless modest in size. South American landscape is one of the ‘prototype’ South American subjects the thirty-year-old Church composed before embarking on his magisterial Heart of the Andes 1859, which lifted him to first pl…
 
L’Estaque, a fishing village on the French coast of the Mediterranean, was a place that Cézanne visited often in the 1870s and 1880s. Why, amongst more picturesque features such as blue sea and a pretty village of ochre stone and red tiles, did the artist address such a difficult and unappealing prospect as this? A viaduct is only an overland passa…
 
Here we see a field of lucerne, the green crop infiltrated by red poppies. Along the skyline is strung a series of pale sheds and outbuildings under a silvery sky. In the distance is Saint-Denis, a suburb ten kilometres north of central Paris, which was industrialising rapidly in the last decades of the nineteenth century. The painting has a very h…
 
A large, ambitious scene of arctic exploration, imagined fifty years after the event and half a world away, seems an unlikely Australian project. Jenner, a self-taught English immigrant painter, tried to establish a cultivated artistic climate in Queensland at the end of the nineteenth century. Such grand history paintings, employing all the strata…
 
By the early 1830s Turner was a regular visitor to the seaside town of Margate, on the eastern tip of the county of Kent, about seventy miles downriver from London. Turner’s first introduction to Margate came in the 1790s, when the place was essentially just a small fishing town, but it had since become a bustling resort that Londoners could reach …
 
Corot was modest and chaste. He never married, in company was nearly always overlooked, the Salon ‘treated him rudely,’ and the only painting by him to enter the Luxembourg Museum was ‘bought almost accidentally by the state in 1851’.1Yet the great Charles Baudelaire was one of many who admired the qualities of simplicity and sureness in Corot’s ar…
 
Russian painters invented a new, heroic art of landscape in the second half of the nineteenth century. Shishkin demonstrates some of its elements in A sandy coastline: the painting holds an implied moral narrative with nationalist overtones. A few giant but slender pines inhabit the shoreline, their roots gripping into uncertain soil. Waves lap up …
 
Rousseau began to paint Under the birches, evening in Berry in central France, at the lowest point of his official artistic career. After initial success at the Paris Salon from 1831 to 1835, all of his works were refused between 1836 and 1841. Discouraged, he then refrained from submitting works to the jury until after the 1848 Revolution, when th…
 
Luce used landscape compositions such as Camaret, moonlight and fishing boats to explore formal issues of colour and light as well as his own political concerns. The painting depicts fishing boats at night in the protected harbour of Camaret, a small fishing village in Brittany on the Atlantic coast. It is executed in Luce’s characteristic division…
 
Turner looks to Claude Lorrain, the great artistic model of seventeenth-century Classical landscape painting, for his composition of Crossing the brook. Devices include framing trees to left and right, while Turner also uses light to lead the eye through a curving central valley until it meets a limpid white sky, which dissipates upwards into pales…
 
Van Gogh’s extraordinary and tragic life, his feelings and thoughts revealed in prolific correspondence, often overwrites the material reality of his paintings. He was a pioneer of modern art, using the genres of landscape, portraiture and still life to experiment with form and colour. Here, in an extraordinary close-up rendition of urban nature, T…
 
Dahl came to Dresden in 1818 from the Copenhagen Academy. He soon joined the circle of the Dresden Romantics, centred around Friedrich and Carus. Friedrich’s immediate influence can be seen clearly in Dahl’s works from this period. His initial cloud studies in Dresden show the same delicate, atmospheric handling of the sky that can be observed in F…
 
Roberts’s return to Melbourne in 1885, after four years’ study in Europe, marked the end of his long artistic apprenticeship. By the age of twenty-nine he had developed a sophisticated eye and an exceptional technical facility that enabled him to capture the appearance of things. He was also a proselytiser and, back home, looked up his old friend F…
 
It is astonishing to think that Streeton was only twenty-four years old when he painted ‘Fire’s on’, a work that remains one of the great icons of Australian landscape painting. When Streeton wrote to his friend Frederick McCubbin (1855–1917) about the work he was undertaking in the Blue Mountains, his excitement and ambition were palpable. It was …
 
Von Guérard sailed into Milford Sound on the SS Otago on the evening of Monday 24 January 1876. The passengers on the eagerly anticipated four-and-a-half day voyage from Melbourne were not disappointed. Myriad waterfalls dashed down the steep sides of the granite peaks, following recent rain, and the clouds lifted to reveal Mitre Peak and Mt Pembro…
 
Here in Brittany the peasants have a medieval air about them and do not for a moment look as though they think that Paris exists and it is 1889 Gauguin, letter to Van Gogh, 18891 Haystacks in Brittany is among a small number of works painted by Gauguin in 1890 at Le Pouldu, on the Breton coast. From July 1886 until his departure for Tahiti in March…
 
Three bands make up the painting: a blue sky, pink and grey clouds, the green meadow. A tree at left frames the composition, the central haystack provides a point of focus, a few animals add extra interest, and some exquisite reflections persuade us of the artist’s painterly skills. If we were to follow the thin, flat bayou meandering through the m…
 
For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but its surroundings bring it to life – the air and the light, which vary continually … For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives objects their true value. Monet 18911 As he matured as an artist, Monet returned to the same motif with e…
 
The scene is idyllic; abundant cabbage-tree palms sway on the beach as sea fowls soar above Pellew’s Group of Islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria. In December 1802 the Investigator, under the command of Captain Matthew Flinders, sailed into the Gulf, continuing its arduous circumnavigation of Australia. Aboard the sloop was the young artist William …
 
Constable, one of the foremost British landscape painters of the nineteenth century, first achieved success with his large canvases depicting landscape and life in and around the Stour Valley, which he exhibited between 1819 and 1825. Such was the success of the first of these large paintings, The white horse 1819,1 when Constable exhibited it at t…
 
De Wint is widely known for his expansive vistas of flat landscape executed with a confident breadth of handling. His peaceful, open, often sunny, always optimistic and productive landscapes and rural scenes seem oblivious to, or perhaps consciously avoid, the social upheavals of his time, brought about by the Industrial Revolution. As the novelist…
 
Palmer’s landscapes are among the major achievements of the British genre in the first half of the nineteenth century. Though he was admired especially for his early intensely visionary landscapes, Palmer’s later work is more conventional, showing greater concern both for naturalism and looking to the acknowledged seventeenth-century masters of lan…
 
When Glover arrived in Hobart in 1831, the thirty-year conflict between the Tasmanian Aborigines and the European settlers was nearing an end. During this time George Augustus Robinson – the appointed Protector of Aborigines – had been relocating the majority of two hundred Indigenous people to Flinders Island. Only two months before he left Hobart…
 
Like Pissarro, in his series of Boulevard Montmartre paintings (cat. 83), the Australian Roberts drew inspiration from Monet’s Boulevard des Capucines 1873.1Although we cannot be certain whether, or when, Roberts saw Monet’s painting, the affinities between the works are compelling.2Monet’s, Roberts’s and Pissaro’s paintings all demonstrate a remar…
 
The Australian Sketcher of November 1873 shows von Guérard’s grand Kosciusko painting displayed at the Vienna Exhibition with other contributions from the Australian colonies. It and another of the artist’s paintings, Cape Woolamai 1872, are surrounded by photographs and maps, produce, flora and fauna, as well as a case of mineral samples and other…
 
Long revered as Monet’s most exquisite series, the Haystack paintings are remarkable for the range of light and weather conditions portrayed. In Haystacks, midday the edges of the stacks shimmer in the heat, and sunlight appears to radiate from the structures themselves. Elsewhere, in the snow scenes, the forms seem to absorb light. The practical n…
 
have always loved the immense streets of Paris, shimmering in the sun, the crowds of all colours, those beautiful linear and aerial perspectives, those eccentric fashions, etc. But how to do it? To install oneself in the middle of the street is impossible in Paris. Ludovic Piette, letter to Pissarro 18721 Early in 1897 Pissarro began a series of pa…
 
Turner had never made any drawings [watercolours] like these before, and never made any like them again … He is not showing his hand in these, but his heart.1 An inveterate traveller, Turner visited Switzerland on his first continental tour in 1802, during the short-lived Treaty of Amiens. He was greatly inspired by the sublime qualities of the alp…
 
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