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Eugene von Guerard

Mt Etna from Taormina, 1838


Catalogue number: 1

oil on canvas on board

51.00 x 91.00

signed and dated ‘Eug. von Guerard / 1838’ l.l.


The artist, until at least January, 1869;
Prof. France Benko;
Joseph Brown Gallery, 1974;
Private Collection, Melbourne, since then


Winter Exhibition, Joseph Brown Gallery, 15 - 31 July, 1974, no. 2 (as Mt Vesuvius)

Literature & references:

[James Smith] Argus, 4 January 1869, page 5;
Candice Bruce, Eugen von Guérard, Canberra: Australian Gallery Directors Council with the assistance for the Visual Arts Board of the Australian Council, in conjunction with the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, and in co-operation with Frank McDonald, 1980. Repr., b & w, page 15;
Joseph Brown, Winter Exhibition Catalogue, 1974, n.p. Repr., b & w;
Candice Bruce, Edward Comstock, Frank McDonald, Eugène von Guérard, 1811-1901: A German Romantic in the Antipodes, Martinborough, New Zealand: Alister Tayler, 1982. As [Mount Etna from Taormina, as it was in 1838] [c.1868], Cat. No. 119, page 247


On a glorious day in early June 1834 Eugen von Guérard (1811-1901) took in the spectacular vista of Mt Etna, snow-capped and smoking, rising behind the ruins of an ancient Greek theatre, rocky peaks and the hilltop town of Taormina to the right, and the Sicilian coast to the left. The view, eulogized by Goethe in his Italian Journey and portrayed by influential German artists including Jacob Philipp Hackert and Franz Catel, made a deep impression on the young von Guérard. It is the subject of the first independent drawing known by his hand. The view also appears in the sketchbook he carried on his travels through Sicily with his artist-father Bernard father. He later revisited the subject in a highly finished pen, ink and wash presentation drawing. Mount Etna from Taormina is the first of a series of Sicilian subjects that von Guérard painted in Düsseldorf following his arrival there in late 1838. A later date of c.1868 has been proposed for the work, based on a review published in the Melbourne Argus on 4 January 1869; the date inscribed on the painting, 1838, was presumed to refer to the time of von Guérard’s visit. The drawings that have since come to light confirm the date of von Guérard’s visit to Taormina as June 1834. It is likely that James Smith, an art and theatre critic and a renowned Italophile, penned his piece after seeing the painting in von Guérard’s Melbourne studio, a space ‘hung around with sketches of Italian scenery.’ Von Guérard’s early encounters with the volcanic phenomena of southern Italy informed his subsequent study of the volcanic landscapes of the German Eifel and western Victoria. Here the deceptively serene form of Mount Etna, towards which the eye is led by the curved walls of the amphitheatre and through the opening in the theatre ruins, takes centre stage.
Dr Ruth Pullin
Independent art historian and curator
March, 2019

Professor France Benko was born in Bled in 1915 and was the Art Restorer at the National Gallery in Ljubljana, Slovenia, before moving to Holland in 1953 and to Australia in 1957. He was commissioned to restore 40 paintings from St Patrick’s Cathedral, and also did conservation work for commercial galleries including Australian Galleries and Joseph Brown. He died in 2003.

View artwork in Exhibition

Exhibition Catalogue

Mt Etna from Taormina

Eugene von Guerard


oil on canvas on board, 51.00 x 91.00

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oil on canvas, 26.50 x 51.00

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(The Pool - Heidelberg - View of the Yarra River towards Richmond from below McCubbin’s house, Kensington Road)

Frederick McCubbin


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Flamingo Pool

Sydney Long


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Mt Tambo, Benambra

John Mather


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oil on board, 48.50 x 59.00

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(The Southern Ocean)

William Frater


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Miles Evergood


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Mt Macedon Garden

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The Back Garden (The Garden)

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The Yarra at Warrandyte

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Exhibition Buildings

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oil on board, 50.00 x 60.00

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Sidney Nolan

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Arthur Boyd

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Part of Avonsleigh (Moonlight, Avonsleigh)

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Since its establishment in 1984, the Charles Nodrum Gallery’s exhibition program embraces a diversity of media and styles - from painting, sculpture & works on paper to graphics and photography; from figurative, geometric, gestural, surrealist & social comment to installation & conceptually based work.