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Abstract

The career of the Austrian-born landscape painter Eugene von Guérard (1811–1901) was defined by his travels, which took him to Italy and Germany in the 1830s and 1840s and to Australia and New Zealand between 1852 and 1882. Today he is recognized as one of Australia’s greatest nineteenth-century landscape painters. His formative years coincided with the emergence of geology as an independent scientific discipline and a growing awareness in the wider community of the role played by volcanic activity and other geological processes in the formation of the Earth’s geomorphology. This new understanding was particularly pertinent to landscape painters, whose very subject was the form of the land; in Germany, where von Guérard trained and worked between 1838 and 1852, its relevance for landscape painters was emphasized by the influential natural scientist Alexander von Humboldt and the scientist, landscape painter and art theorist Carl Gustav Carus. They argued that the artist should paint from a geologically informed perspective. Von Guérard’s interest in volcanic geology was sparked by his experiences in southern Italy, consolidated in Germany on expeditions through the Harz and Eifel regions and then fully realized in response to the landscapes of southeastern Australia. Through his informed portrayal of sites of geological significance in each hemisphere and through the cultural value invested in them as a consequence of his depiction of them, von Guérard epitomized that recently conceived construct: the geotourist.

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