Landscape paintings: An interesting theme

Saturday, 22 June 2013 06:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reference was made in the last column about the innovative ideas of Australia Post in releasing stamps. One such recent issue covered selected paintings on landscapes from the National Gallery of Australia. At a glance one may wonder whether landscapes can be an interesting theme for stamps, particularly because Australia is not a country noted for beautiful scenery. The stamps, however, confirms how much one can enjoy in seeing different landscapes in the colourful stamps. The paintings convey a range of captivating Australian terrain, from lush coastal regions to the dry interior. Much care has been taken in selecting the paintings which have been done during a long period from the late 1830s to the years following World War II. The period has been identified as the most prolific period of landscape art in Australia. The paintings also reflect the changing nature of the country’s identity. In this era, landscape subjects became firm favourites with the public and it is reported that Australians began to visit their museums and galleries to see images of their country. The National Gallery of Australia’s collections include more than 160,000 works of art across four main areas: Australian art, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander art, Asian art, and European and American art. Works in the Gallery are part of Australia’s national collection. They belong to the people of Australia and are preserved and presented for their enjoyment and education. The recent issue on landscapes comprise five stamps depicting paintings by renowned artists. Dandenong Ranges from ‘Beleura’ (1870) is the title of the first stamp (from the left) which is an example of Austrian born painter Eugene von Guerard,’s suburban coastal landscapes. Dandenong is a set of low mountain ranges, rising to 633 metres at Mount Dandenong, approximately 35 km east of Melbourne, Victoria. The painting is believed to have been commissioned by a wealthy pastoralist. The ranges consist mostly of rolling hills, steeply weathered valleys and gullies covered in thick temperate rainforest, predominantly of tall Mountain Ash trees and dense ferny undergrowth. The next painting titled ‘In the Flinders – Far North’ (1951) shows the landscape from the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. It is the work of Sir Hans Heysen (1877-1968), a German-born Australian artist. He became a household name for ground-breaking depictions of arid landscapes in the Flinders Ranges, particularly his water colours of monumental Australian gum trees, as evidenced in the painting. He won the Wynne Prize – awarded annually for ‘the best landscape painting of Australian scenery in oils or watercolours – a record nine times. ‘In the land of the Golden Fleece’ (1926) Sir Arthur Ernest Streeton (1867 –1943), an Australian landscape painter depicts a view towards Mount William from the southern end of the Grampians mountain range in Victoria. ‘Mr. Robinson’s house on the Derwent, Van Diemen’s Land’ (1838) is the work of John Glover, an English/Australian artist dubbed the father of Australian landscape painting. Described as one of his most magical landscapes, the site in the painting is beside the Derwent Estuary on the outskirts of Hobart where Robinson owned a double stoned colonial house and expansive grounds. Russian-born artist Nicholas Chevalier (1828-1902) painted ‘Sturdley Park at sunrise’ (1861) while travelling throughout the south-east of Australia in search of dramatic mountain ranges and seascapes for his subject matter. The painting depicts east-central Victoria’s Yarra River flanked by tall trees and bushland. In addition to the set of stamps and First Day Cover, the enthusiasts could collect a beautiful set of five Maxicards with enlarged pictures of the landscapes, a gutter strip and a booklet.