The Joy of Museums

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“Melbourne from Emerald Hill”, 1870 by Robert Russell

State Library of Victoria - Joy of Museums - "Melbourne from Emerald Hill" by Robert Russell

“Melbourne from Emerald Hill” by Robert Russell depicts the spires, towers, smoke stacks and buildings of Melbourne as seen from near Emerald Hill. This 1870’s view is looking across paddocks with cows and horses towards City. The foreground  shows two men on horseback.

The city detail shows in this painting Melbourne Town Hall, church spires, the tower of Fire Brigade, St Patrick’s Cathedral and Parliament House, together with the stone bridge over the Yarra. With the gold rush largely over by 1860, Melbourne continued to grow on the back of continued gold mining and as the major port for exporting increasing agricultural output. Major public buildings were begun in the 1860s and 1870s such as the Supreme Court, Government House and Queen Victoria Market. The central city filled up with shops, offices, workshops, warehouses, large banks and hotels.

Robert Russell was born near London, he became a surveyor, architect and artist and in 1836 Russell was appointed surveyor to the infant settlement at Port Phillip where he settled. The range of Russell’s interests was considerable. His letters provide a valuable descriptions of the early Victorian settlement. This prolific artistic output, is represented in many collections, including in the National Library of Australia, the Dixson and Mitchell Libraries, Sydney, the National Gallery of Victoria and the State Library of Victoria.

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

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Essential Facts:

  • Title:               Melbourne from Emerald Hill
  • Year:               1870
  • Artist:             Robert Russell (1808-1900)
  • Medium:        Painting, watercolour
  • Dimensions:  18.7 x 30.7 cm., 28.7 x 45.2 cm.
  • Museum:        State Library of Victoria

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

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Photo Credits: 1) By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons