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The Goldfields Art Galleries
While the goldrush has slipped gently into history, you can still capture the optimistic spirit of its pioneers. The Goldfields region abounds in picturesque botanical gardens and impressive regional art galleries born from the optimism of the pioneers.
The Bendigo Art Gallery is outstanding. Local surgeon Neptune-Scott bequeathed his 19th century French Collection which shows Sisley, Harpignes, Courbet, Rosseau and Hortlear to the gallery. Such acts of generosity were not uncommon in these times. Many wealthy mining magnates were collectors of Australian and European Art and they would often bequeath them to the local galleries. Australian artists represented in this region include George Lambert, Rupert Bunny, Ray Crooke, Clifton Pugh and Fred Williams. The Gallery houses the largest Louis Buvelot collection in Australia.
The contents of the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery are equally impressive. A key feature is the Lindsay Gallery where works of art by Lionel Lindsay and other members of the family are on display. The only surviving item from this artistic family's house in Creswick is their sitting room which you can also see in the gallery. Paintings of Eugene Von Guerard portraying Ballarat in the 1850s and those of Waiter Withers, E. Phillips Fox and other early Australian School Painters are also on display.
At the Gallery at Castlemaine you can see Frederick McCubbin's Golden Sunlight which was donated by Dame Nellie Melba. You can also admire the works of Tom Roberts and E. Phillips Fox who underline the importance of the Heidelberg School in the development of Australian art. And that is not to mention the several Margaret Preston's you will discover here.
Collectively these three Victorian art galleries hold some of Australia's key art pieces and other works which portray early regional scenes are valuable historical references and certainly worth noting.
You will discover many outdoor works of art in both Ballarat and Bendigo which also mark the exuding confidence of the goldrush.