The Joy of Museums

Finding Beauty & Meaning in Museums

“Melbourne from the Botanical Gardens” by Henry C Gritten

State Library of Victoria - Joy of Museums -

“Melbourne from the Botanical Gardens” by Henry C Gritten shows the city of Melbourne around the time of 1867. Melbourne was founded by free settlers from the colony of Van Diemen’s Land, current day Tasmania, in 1835. It was named “Melbourne” by the Governor of New South Wales, in honour of the British Prime Minister of the day, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne.

Melbourne was officially declared a city by Queen Victoria in 1847, after which it became the capital of the newly founded colony of Victoria in 1851. During the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s, it was transformed into one of the world’s largest and wealthiest cities.

With the gold rush largely over by 1860, Melbourne continued to grow on the back of continuing gold mining and as the major port for exporting a rapidly growing agricultural industry. The construction of shops. offices, workshops, warehouses, large banks, hotels and fine townhouses was at its peak around the time of this painting and can be seen in the background.

State Library of Victoria - Joy of Museums - "Melbourne from the Botanical Gardens" 2

A close-up view of city 

The artist, Henry C. Gritten (1818 – 1873) was born and educated in England. He was a frequent exhibitor in Britain and in 1848 he traveled to the United States living in Brooklyn and exhibited in America. In 1853. Gritten arrived in Australia, to prospect at the Bendigo goldfields, but soon resumed painting in Victoria and Tasmania. He was represented at the first exhibition of the Victorian Academy of Art held at Melbourne in 1870. His artwork can be found in the National Gallery of Victoria and Connell collections in Melbourne, the Mitchell Library in Sydney, and the Commonwealth National Library in Canberra.

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 the Botanical Gardens
  • Artist:             Henry C Gritten
  • Year:               1867
  • Medium:        Oil on cardboard
  • Dimensions:  35.6 x 25.7 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