Mount Abrupt and the Grampians 1863 signed and dated 'N Chevalier 1863' lower right oil on canvas 42.5 x 62.5cm (16 3/4 x 24 5/8in).
PROVENANCE Private collection Gemmell, Tuckett and Co., Melbourne, 17 October 1868, lot 5 as 'Mount Abrupt' Collection of Dr Tracy Deutscher Fine Art, Melbourne Collection of Dudley Cain, Melbourne Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne Private collection, Melbourne
EXHIBITED Australian Art Colonial to Modern, Deutscher Fine Art, Melbourne, 9-25 April 1986, cat. no. 34 (illus.) Annual Collectors Exhibition 2003, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 6 September - 5 October 2003 Nicholas Chevalier - Australian Odyssey, Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale, 17 September - 13 November 2011; Geelong Art Gallery, Geelong, 26 November 2011 - 12 February 2012, cat. no. 23 (illus.) Impressions of Colour: Colour in Australian Art, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 18 August - 29 September 2012, cat. no. 2 (illus.)
RELATED WORK View of the Grampians, Western District, pen, ink and wash, heightened with white, on paper 16.0 x 22.8 cm, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria
From April to June, as the official artist, Chevalier accompanied the German meteorologist Professor Georg Nuemayer on his tour through Victoria. By the 7th June, the party had reached the Grampians and was camped near the base of Mt Sturgeon. On Chevalier's return to Melbourne, the Argus published an extended laudatory notice in early July 1862:
'... the adventurous artist [has] an instinctive perception of what is picturesque and beautiful in the face of nature.. the rugged majesty of the Grampians... [possesses] those elements of picturesqueness which bestow such a charm upon the mountainous districts of Europe... The results of Mr Chevalier's rambles amongst the Grampians are to be found in a number of oil paintings, which were executed on the mountains, the weather at the period of his visit being most favourable for the purpose.'1
In Chevalier's painting, Mt Abrupt and the Grampians 1863, Mt Abrupt is placed in the centre of the composition, towering over Mt Sturgeon to its left, and at the right peaks of the Serra Range diminish in scale. The Grampians end with Mt Sturgeon, and this view is from the southeast some distance beyond Dunkeld.
In addition to the plein air oil sketches he made, Chevalier also brought back with him drawings later used as preparatory studies for the present work, painted the year after his return in 1863.
"'Mount Abrupt' and the 'Falls on the Wannon' are to our taste, however, two of the most noteworthy paintings in the list. Of the two, 'Mount Abrupt' is the finest. The artist has caught the true spirit of Australian scenery. The wild and rugged mountain, the undulating grassy plain, the tiny creek trickling painfully through masses of boulders, the scanty rugged bushes, and, above all, the dim hot haze that broods over the distant slopes, combine to form a picture eminently Australian in its character. The composition is careful. The pyramidal form of the brushwork in the foreground is excellently managed, and the tender air tints of the mountains have been unsurpassed by the artist in any of his previous pictures. The whole composition is rich in colour, and abounds with careful studies and delicate manipulation."2
1 Argus, Melbourne, 2nd July 1862, p. 4 2 The Argus, 16 October, 1868, p.6