Eugene von Guérard’s North-east view from the northern top of Mount Kosciusko celebrates the awe-inspiring aspects of the Australian landscape. Von Guérard visited the Mount Kosciuszko region in 1862 with a party led by the German scientist George Neumayer, who was studying terrestrial magnetism and conducting a survey of Victoria. Von Guérard later painted this work in his Melbourne studio from sketches made on the journey.
Von Guérard depicted the view from Mount Townsend, the second highest point in Australia, looking towards Mount Jagungal, which is the large snow-capped peak visible on the horizon. He combined topographical accuracy with a heightened sense of wonderment at the grandeur of the landscape and the power of natural forces. In the foreground he introduced a large mound of boulders underneath which Neumayer and his assistant are shown taking barometric readings to determine the height of the mountain. Von Guérard introduced these boulders into the painting to increase the drama of the scene and to emphasise the physical insignificance of the men in the mountain landscape. In the distant sky he captured the approaching storm, which later overtook the party on the mountain.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008