Morges, Switzerland 1814 – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 1888
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas
The Swiss landscape painter, Louis Buvelot, arrived in Victoria in 1865. A year later, he began exhibiting in Melbourne. By the end of the decade, he was regarded as the colony’s leading landscape painter, eclipsing Eugene von Guérard.
Buvelot achieved this status partly because von Guérard’s painting was generally much more mundane from the mid-1860s than it was in his first ten years as an artist in Melbourne. Yet Buvelot also triumphed because of the breadth of his technique (which offered a stark contrast to the great precision with which von Guérard painted) and because of his focus on apparently nondescript aspects of the settled countryside, generally close to Melbourne (which were very different to the spectacular mountain ranges, crater lakes and waterfalls that von Guérard preferred).
Near Lilydale exemplifies these aspects of Buvelot’s work. Its paintwork is relatively broad. The main features of the landscape – sunlit gum trees, background hills and rough pastures with cattle at water in a shadowed foreground – are commonplace. It is the kind of ‘comfortable’ subject which a new breed of urban, middle-class art patron came to prefer to the sublime and spectacular.
Tim Bonyhady, 2002
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002