In the midst of Romanticism…

One of the highlights of our Literature class is the visit to the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  I love wandering around the gallery, exploring various works of art while the wooden floorboards creak beneath my feet. Something about that sound adds to the experience.  As a Literature student, I find the visit to the gallery so valuable, as exploring the art of the period adds further insight to the text we are studying.  Usually I am quite vocal during our visits, this time however, I walked around mostly in silence, taking in the works around me and soaking up the information provided my Michael.  I am not well versed in 19th Century paintings so I was surprised to see the Romantic influence in early Australian Colonial pieces.

John Glover’s `Ullswater , early morning’ painted in 1824, is a fantastic example of Romanticism at work.


Ullswater,in the lakes district in England, was also the home of the Wordsworth’s and Coleridge.  It is easy to see why these artists settled in this region. The painting displays the freedom in the landscape and the abundance of light. The cows allow the the viewer to see the dramatic scope and size of the mountains.  It is hard to see but there is also a small boat on the glittering lake which is the heart of the painting.   It is interesting to see how Glover and the many other artists would continue to paint the landscape when they settled in Australia. These artists would have been astonished by the natural beauty of the Australian scenery, having never seen anything like it before. Early paintings would promote the landscape as they would have back home in England –  soft and gentle. Artists would paint what they knew of home. As a result, Australia was often portrayed with bright greens and crystal blue tones.  Later on, the artists would start reflecting the true overwhelming feelings they had experienced. This is evident in Glover’s painting `Launceston and the river Tamar’, (circa 1832).




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