Joy of Museums

Exploring Museums, Art & Historic Sites

“Melbourne”, 1905 by Laurence William Wilson

State Library of Victoria - Joy of Museums - Melbourne 1905 by Laurence William Wilson

“Melbourne”, 1905 by Laurence William Wilson depicts a panoramic view of the city of Melbourne from the Queen Victoria gardens. Paintings of Melbourne from the southern bank of the Yarra have been popular since the city’s founding.

This painting shows historic Melbourne at the turn of  last century. A detailed examination shows the city landscape of over 100 years ago and the evolution of the city. Landmarks to explore include:

  • Princes Bridge
  • St Kilda Road (running over the bridge)
  • Batman Avenue (on the far right)
  • Flinders Street Trains
  • Victorian Confectionery works on south west bank
  • Boat sheds along southeast bank
  • Trams and wagons on the bridge and on St Kilda Road
  • Horse-draw vehicles
  • People strolling on pathways
  • Accurate building architecture of the time

State Library of Victoria - Joy of Museums - Melbourne 1905 by Laurence William Wilson - closeup

Closeup of the painting showing Trams and horse-draw vehicles crossing the Yarra River

In 1904 Wilson visited Melbourne to paint this work,  his patron commented on the detailed work Wilson undertook:

“Wilson expected to do the work in about 3 weeks … It took Wilson about 5 weeks alone to make his sketches. Everything was completed in detail down to the windows of every building and everything was absolutely accurate…. Wilson took 5 months to complete the picture.”

Laurence Wilson studied art in England before emigrating to Auckland in the late 1870s. He lived in Dunedin from 1884 as a commercial artist and painter of New Zealand scenery. He travelled to Melbourne in 1904 to complete this painting and then returned to England.

Among the many historical objects in the State Library of Victoria the following are some of the highlights:


Essential Facts:

  • Title:               Melbourne
  • Year:               1905
  • Artist:             Wilson, Laurence William, (1815-1912)
  • Medium:        Painting, oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 80.0 x 267.0 cm
  • Museum:        State Library of Victoria


” Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.” Australian Proverb



Photo Credits: 1) By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons