The peripatetic life of landscape artist Eugene von Guérard: discovering the man behind the art

Portrait of Mr. Eugene von Guérard, published c1871-1900, by John Botterill. Source: Pictures collection, State Library of Victoria

The peripatetic life of 19th century landscape artist Eugene von Guérard spanned both hemispheres of the globe and most of the 19th century. The ‘facts’ that scaffold his life are frequently reiterated in commentaries about his art, but the man behind the public persona has been largely ignored. There has been no in-depth investigation of why the forty-year-old artist migrated to colonial Victoria, the current assumption being that he came to dig for gold, or why, after almost thirty years, he decided to return permanently to Europe. The quest to fill this gap became the catalyst for my research into von Guérard’s life. By using the archival tools of the historian and the lens of the biographer to detect evidential clues within diverse source material and through an investigation of the historically situated fields and multiple socio-cultural contexts in which his life unfolded, the man behind the art gradually emerged.

Karen Manton graduated BA (Hons) at UNSW, completed postgraduate studies at Melbourne University, and obtained her Doctorate at ANU. Karen taught in Australian secondary and tertiary institutions where she delivered curriculum change. She has lived and worked overseas, most recently in Washington DC where she was associated with the Kreeger Museum of Art. She has researched collections in several art institutions and was a guide at the National Gallery of Australia. Karen’s academic interests include biography, English and French literature, nineteenth century history, and art history. She is currently a Visiting Fellow at ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences.

Date & time

Thu 30 May 2024, 11am–12.30pm


Room 6.71, level 6, RSSS Building AND online


Dr Karen Manton

Event series


National Centre of Biography


Dr Stephen Wilks
(02) 6125 2349


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