View in the Grampians from the top of the Serra Range, Eugene von Guerard 1870

Section
1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship
Chapter
1.7 Paintings
Page
1.7.1

This is an enlargement of the central section of this big canvas (69 x 92 cm).

It takes you straight into the great clefts and crags of the mountains near my home in western Victoria, Australia. But, much more than a personal reference, this is a fine example of a whole genre of landscape painting – of the time and around the world – which variously blended scientific realism with Romanticism, and the perspective of what the Germans called ‘Humboldtian Reisekunstler’1, or the travelling artist, an exotic cross between explorer and naturalist, based on the travels, works and exhortations of the great Baron von Humboldt.

Despite the finest scientific accuracy displayed in the painting (von Guerard’s works are so accurate they have been vital to a number of environmental restoration projects in my home state, such as at Tower Hill near Warrnambool and Mt Leura and surrounds near Camperdown), I think the dominant paradigm is Romanticism. The painting is all about power, awe, magnificence, with humans – in this case – two Aborigines in the foreground – as tiny and insignificant (and, amusingly, are presented as peering most cautiously into the abyss). Great blocks of sandstone rear out of the dark gorge (I lightened the painting for reproduction purposes; the original is far darker and more mysterious) and eagles ride the wild sky above. There are no domestic animals here, there is no human-made order, it is sheer, majestic wonder and power, presented with the express goal to delight, excite and inspire a love of Nature1.

Von Guerard was one of a group of German Humboldtians who made a most important contribution to Australia: Ferdinand von Mueller – Government Botanist of Victoria, founder of the National Herbarium, Victoria, and Director Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, the explorer Ludwig Leichardt, and even, at the end of this line in the early 20th century, Gustav Weindorfer, as mentioned in Books 1.3.7 (‘Kindred’).

To the Romantics, Nature exists with or without us and this otherness is sublime, a viewpoint at considerable odds with the modern day, as discussed in more detail in Articles 1.1.10 (Killing Nature in the Mind).

 

1 Pullin, R. 2011. Eugene Von Guerard: Nature Revealed. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

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1.7.2 View in the Grampians from the top of the Serra Range

This is an enlargement of the central section of this big canvas (69 x 92 cm). It takes you straight into the great clefts and crags of the mountains near my home in western Victoria, Australia. But, much more than a personal reference, this is...

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1.7.4 Colonial Evening – Landscape after George Raper

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1.7.5 The Rabbiters

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1.7.6 Explorer Attacked by Parrots

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1.7.7 Red Landscape

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1.7.8 Princess Parrot/Sceptre Banksia

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1.7.9 Water Dreaming for Two Children

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Explore Other Sections

1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship
1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship 1.1 Articles 1.2 Art Installations 1.3 Books 1.4 Buildings 1.5 Film, Documentaries, Podcasts 1.6 Music 1.7 Paintings 1.8 Photographs 1.9 Poems 1.10 Spiritual Responses
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1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship

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2. Reduce Consumption
2. Reduce Consumption

2. Reduce Consumption

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3. Replace God of Growth with God of Quality
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3. Replace God of Growth with God of Quality

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4. Work, Volunteer, Act for the Environment
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5. Reduce Population
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7. Stop Further Loss of Natural Habitat and Species
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8. Assist Energy Descent and Transition
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9. Support New, Environmentally-Aware, Economic Systems
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Just as with the previous section – ‘Energy’ – which is, inescapably, all about fossil fuels so pre-eminent and extraordinary has been their dominance and transformation of the world in the last 20...
10. Reduce Wastes to the Rate of Natural Assimilation
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