Walter Preston (etcher)
Joseph Lycett attributed to (after)
Black swans of New South Wales: View on Reed’s Mistake River c. 1817–18
plate 7 in An Historical Account of the Colony of New South Wales by James Wallis
etching and engraving
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Joe White Bequest, 2010 (2010.322)

Henry Gritten
English 1818–1873, worked in Australia 1853–1873
Prince's Bridge 1856
watercolour over traces of pencil
25.6 x 35.8 cm
Gift of John H. Connell, 1914 (752-2)

Edward La Trobe Bateman
English 1816–97, worked in Australia 1852–1869, Scotland c. 1871–1897
A trail of passion flowers c. 1860
watercolour over pencil
26.1 x 25.5 cm
Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria
by Mrs James Evans, Governor, 1989 (P134-1989)

Month of Print

National Gallery of Victoria

This Wondrous Land : Colonial Art on Paper

29 April - 2 October 2011 Robert Raynor Gallery, Level 3, NGV International
16 July - 27 November 2011 Gallery 11, Level 2, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

This Wondrous Land: Colonial Art on Paper offers a rich pictorial record of Australia’s history with rarely seen treasures and new acquisitions displayed for the first time.  Drawn from the NGV’s diverse collection, the exhibition features prints, drawings, watercolours, illustrated books and miniature paintings, and explores the crucial role art on paper played in the early representation of European settlement in Australia. Covering the period from the 1770s to 1880s, the works range from etchings and engravings made after voyages of exploration to accomplished watercolours of established colonies.  To accommodate the great variety of material, the exhibition has been divided into two parts.
Part one (NGV International, 29 Apr – 2 Oct) draws together images about the exploration and settlement of the continent. Key themes include early representations of native animals, which were a great source of fascination to Europeans, and images showing Indigenous life and customs, including a number of portraits. Representations of the landscape range from early topographical prints by convict artists to beautiful watercolours and drawings by professional artists such as Conrad Martens and Louis Buvelot. The selected works highlight the different purposes for which images were produced – some were made as documentary records, while others such as Joseph Lycett’s hand-coloured etchings served to entice investment and immigration, and later artists including John Skinner Prout and Eugene von Guérard made works for the growing art market.
Part two of the exhibition (NGV Australia, 16 Jul – 27 Nov) concentrates on the development of the city of Melbourne and its art scene. Artists such as Edward La Trobe Bateman, Georgiana McCrae, George Alexander Gilbert and von Guérard were all intimately associated within Melbourne’s small art world in the mid nineteenth century. The exhibition traces some of the connections between individuals, their friends and professional relationships, and also features early images of Melbourne, which was developing into a city of impressive wide streets, substantial buildings and burgeoning institutions. This view of the colony is counterbalanced with drawings by Indigenous artists such as William Barak and Tommy McRae who recorded their culture and experience using the introduced materials of pen and ink, watercolours and paper.

To concide with this exhibition the National Gallery of Victoria has produced a major publication, This Wondrous Land: Colonial Art on Paper, edited by Alisa Bunbury including essays by various authors. For more information please download an information sheet here.

Lavishly illustrated with works by convict artists such as Joseph Lycett, Richard Browne and Charles Rodius to masterpieces by professional artist-settlers including Conrad Martens, Eugene von Guérard and Louis Buvelot, this publication showcases the breadth and richness of colonial watercolours, drawings and prints that depict ‘this wondrous land’. For international visitors it would be a lovely memento of Australia to take home!


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