Mount Kosciuszko, seen from the Victorian border (Mount Hope Ranges) 1866 is based on drawings made by Eugene von Guérard in 1862 during a scientific expedition to Mount Kosciuszko led by the German scientist Professor Georg Balthasar von Neumayer.
While this view is serene, journals written during the expedition reveal that the party endured incredible hardships. The dark, eerie, primeval bush and the elevated, light-drenched Mount Kosciuszko form two contrasting regions within the composition of the painting. These two areas are visually linked by tall majestic gum trees and a flock of cockatoos. High above, in the distance, hawks glide on alpine currents. The skeletal remains of the towering tree trunks frame a section of the centre foreground where we see Von Neumayer riding his white horse towards his dog, Hector. Several other horses graze quietly in the bush while Von Neumayer’s travelling companions set up camp for the night. The figures are small details in a scene of sweeping natural grandeur.
While von Guérard’s interest in scientific enquiry is evident in the accurately observed details in the landscape, the dramatic contrasts of scale and light reflect Romantic allusions to the divine and poetic in nature.