Morges, Switzerland 1814 – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 1888
Macedon, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: drawings, graphite; paper drawing in black pencil Support: paper
Although he usually annotated his sketches with the location of the subject, Louis Buvelot had little interest in precise or particular topographies. He often drew in pencil but unlike his contemporary, Eugene von Guérard, he rarely employed its capacity to produce sharp details or outlines. Rather, as this typical 1872 drawing of Macedon shows, he used the pencil to create patches of rough tone with which he built up a dense variegated sketch of the bush. This drawing is concerned with light and shade; it possesses a complete tonal range, from the blank glare of paper to the deep shade under the densest copse of trees. Buvelot’s other preferred drawing media – charcoal, and brush and ink wash – were those capable of achieving tonal effects quickly and effectively.
Buvelot undertook a number of sketching journeys, some of which took him a considerable distance through Victoria. But his favourite sketching grounds, where rustic landscapes mingled with picturesque bushland, were found close to Melbourne.
Buvelot appears to have exhibited sketches only in the last few years of his life and to have used sketching for the orthodox purpose of working towards producing pictures in the studio. After his death in 1888, one of his acquaintances described camping with the artist and collecting material for pictures. He recalled that, when Buvelot had ‘looked long in the bush and made his many sketches, and taken all the impressions he thought it possible to remember and reproduce, he would go home to his workroom’.1
1 Thomas Carrington, ‘Some Relics of an Australian Artist’, Melbourne Argus, 5 June 1888, p.4.
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