Conrad Martens1801 - 1878 Valley of the Grose, Govert's Leap, Blackheath 1839
- oil on canvas
One of the only professional painters to settle permanently in Australia and make a living from his work during the first half of the 19th century, Conrad Martens was Sydney's pre-eminent landscape painter.
Versed in the style of 17th-century French artist Claude Lorrain and the most famous British artist of his age, JMW Turner, Martens adapted his academic approach to painting to respond to the unique characteristics of the Australian environment and the local conditions of the colonial market.
The son of an English mother and the Austrian Consul General in London, Martens pursued a career in painting following his father's death in 1816.
In 1833 Martens joined the HMS Beagle on a scientific survey expedition at Montevideo, South America, as ship's artist, replacing the ailing Augustus Earle. He befriended the ship's naturalist, Charles Darwin, whose empirical observation of landscape forms and climatic conditions would influence Martens' practice. Source: Art Gallery of New South Wales.