University Art Collection acquires new work by Louis Buvelot

In 1876 the Swiss-born landscape artist Louis Buvelot spent time sketching around Bacchus Marsh. Upon his return to his Melbourne studio, he painted two views of Goodman’s Creek: one is held in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, while the other was recently acquired for the University Art Collection with funds provided by the Russell and Mab Grimwade Miegunyah Fund.

Similar to many of Buvelot’s tranquil pastoral scenes, the AGNSW painting shows a vista along the drying creek bed to distant cattle and sunlit trees. In the University’s new acquisition, however, Buvelot looks not along but directly at the creek bank, dividing the canvas sharply between the foreground barrier of rocks, earth and flood debris and the gum-topped paddock behind.

Throughout his life Sir Russell Grimwade was dedicated to the sustainable development of a native timber industry and advocated for a strategic approach to land-use. In an impassioned letter to the Argus newspaper in 1937, he wrote about the dangers of erosion and flooding, asking ‘Do Australians realise that the chief product of their forests is not the lovely timber that they yield, but water? … [W]e have a duty to leave our successors as good or a better land than we have enjoyed.’

Louis Buvelot

Image: Louis Buvelot, Goodman’s Creek, Bacchus Marsh, 1876 [detail]. University Art Collection, University of Melbourne