Mt Munda from St Hubert, Yerring
- Nicholas Chevalier
- Mt Munda from St Hubert, Yerring
- oil on board
- 29.2 x 45.7 cm
signed lower right: NC
inscribed lower right: 15 Nov 1863 Yerring
private collection, London
Probably, Annual Exhibition of Fine Arts, 105 Collins Street East, March 1864, no. 103 (Mount Munda, Upper Yarra, from Yerring [sic.])
Simon Gregg, Nicholas Chevalier, Australian Odyssey, Gippsland, 2011, p.211 no. 78
A series of oil paintings dating from 1863 were exhibited at the Annual Exhibition of Fine Arts in 1864 depicting the area around Mount Munda, Yarra Flats, Yering and St Hubert (see cat. nos. 76 – 82 as listed in Simon Gregg, Nicholas Chevalier, 2011)
According to Gregg, the whereabouts for most of these paintings is currently unknown, although no 77 Yarra Flats, Yerring1863 watercolour, 21.4 x 28 cm is now in the collection of McClelland Gallery.
Mt Munda from St Hubert, Yering 1865, lithograph, 19.4 x 29.2 cm (printed image size)
see editions in the National Library of Australia and the State Library of Victoria.
The fourth of seven plates (Australian Views drawn from nature and lithographed by N. Chevalier) issued as loose leaf unnumbered tinted lithographs printed by Charles Troedel and published by B. Riemann for the broadside The Artistic Melbourne Advertiser 1865.
“Melbourne is just now rich in art publications of high merit. We have already noticed there is more than one, and we cannot now fairly pass over a series of views published by Mr B. Riemann of 41 Swanston Street, and bearing the title of The Artistic Melbourne Advertiser… the plan is to publish six monthly parts, each containing an original country view drawn from nature, and lithographed. The two already published are Mt Munda from St Hubert, Yering and Agnes River, Corner Inlet, Gippsland. They were both drawn and lithographed by Nicholas Chevalier, and exhibit in a high degree the particular merits of this distinguished artist. The picture of Mount Munda is wonderfully Australian in its character, and the placid lake, fringed with lightly timbered land, behind which the mountain rises in good relief, is a faithful representation of scenery to be frequently met with on this side of the Dividing Range…” The Argus, Melbourne, 2 May 1865, p.4
The Scottish born Ryrie brothers, Donald and James, planted Victoria’s first vineyard at Yering Station in the Yarra Valley in 1838. Yering derives from the indigenous name for the area. The brothers sold the property in 1850 to Chevalier’s Swiss compatriots, the de Castella and du Pury families who established St Huberts Vineyard and Yeringberg, covering an area of 430 acres. By the late 1800s the winery was established as one of the greatest wineries in the state, recognised with Emperor of Germany’s Grand Prize at the 1881 Melbourne International Exhibition and winning the Grand Prix at the Paris Exhibition in 1889 – the only wine from the Southern Hemisphere to do so.
The painting is characteristic of Chevalier’s lyrical landscapes with the bucolic cows adding a point of interest and point of reference for scale.
Nicholas Chevalier was born in St Petersburg, the second son of a Swiss father and Russian mother. Young Chevalier familiarized himself with the city’s great art collections and these experiences must have been critical in his later decision to become an artist. In 1851 Chevalier went to London where he was particularly impressed with the landscapes of the English watercolourists. To further his professional experience, he travelled to Rome, spending most of 1853 and 1854 in Italy. His father’s business activities brought Chevalier to Melbourne in 1854, where he soon found work as an illustrator for the Melbourne Punch.
A number of European artists were attracted by the Victorian goldrush including Eugene von Guerard, Ludwig Becker, and Louis Buvelot, bringing continental traditions to Melbourne. Chevalier was trained in the German romantic tradition, and was inspired by he Australian landscape with panoramic views of rugged mountains, misty valleys and crashing waterfalls against expansive skies. In 1862, from April to June, he accompanied the German meteorologist Professor Georg Nuemayer, as the official artist, on his tour through Victoria. In 1863-64 he travelled again with Nuemayer to the Gippsland area.
Chevalier was a significant artist, contributing much to the growing Australian art scene. He exhibited 6 watercolours at the Victorian Exhibition of Art 1856, and in the same year he was involved in founding The Victorian Society of Fine Arts. At their first exhibition the next year he contributed 3 paintings. He exhibited at the Victorian Exhibition of Fine Arts in 1860 and 1861 (11 paintings) and the Annual Exhibition of Fine Arts in 1862 (24 paintings – all Australian subjects) and 1864 (39 works). At the 1866 Intercolonial Exhibition he was represented by a number of works of New Zealand scenes.
His was awarded his first Australian commission in 1860, and like von Guerard, his reputation quickly appealed to pastoralists who wanted their landholdings immortalised in ‘pastoral portraits’ of their homesteads and the tamed wilderness.
A greater understanding and appreciation of Chevalier’s place as an Australian colonial artist was promoted by an exhibition of his Australian works curated by Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale last year (Australian Odyssey, 17 Sep – 13 Nov 2011 and also Geelong Art Gallery, 26 Nov 2011 – 12 Feb 2012). He has been the subject of a monograph in 1981 (Melvin Day Nicholas Chevalier, Artist: His Life and Work) and an extensive article by Heather Curnow the same year (Nicholas Chevalier 1828 – 1902 in Art and Australia). John McDonald’s definitive text The Art of Australia (2008) dedicated six pages to Chevalier, and Simon Gregg’s impressive volume Nicholas Chevalier: Australian Odyssey.
Chevalier stayed in Melbourne for thirteen years and married Caroline Wilkie in 1857. In 1882 Chevalier was appointed adviser to the National Gallery of New South Wales (in London), a position he held until his death in 1902.