February 12, 2004

Romanticism & empire

I've been on the road and the computer system in Canberra has been down for two days. So there is little blogging. I will continue with the work of Mandy Martin in the Salvator Rosa section of the Carnarvon National Park in south west Queensland:

First a photography of the park.
Mark nemeth, Early morning light on an unnamed knoll near Sentinel Bluff, Salvator Rosa

Then a painting by Mandy Martin:
Mandy Martin Omnus Inclusum, Salvator Rosa series IV 2002

Is this a romanticism that has not degenerated into sterility? Martin is exploring the visually connections between S.T.Mitchell’s association between this place in Australia and the 17th century Italian artist.

I haven't read Major Thomas Mitchell's journal. From my googling I understand that he explored the western area of Queensland in 1845 as part of a search for a route from Sydney to the Gulf of Carpentaria. This part of Queensland is a very low rainfall belt in the Salvator Rosa National Park. Major Mitchell dragged horses and carts through it and he spoke of the hills in the distance. He called them the Salvator Rosa hills because they reminded him of the works of the painter of that name.

Did Mitchell have something like this in mind?
Salvator Rosa, River Landscape with Apollo and the Cumean Sibyl

Rosa's landscapes are moody evocations of the sea and mountain and they stand in stark contrast to the classically calm, sublime landscapes of Claude Lorrain, for example. Accordingly, Rosa is considered a precursor and exemplar for the Romantic-era Anglo-Saxon landscape painting in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

By the 1840s Australia was part of the imperial core and periphery of the British empire. Australia was the periphery and Mitchell stood at the beginning of the hsitory of imperial colonisation in Australia. Mitchell's 'exploration' ideology (eg. that of the 1800s) was designed to foster Australia's development of trade and commercial links within this region. Mitchell the explorer was the precursor to the extension of pastoralism and the development of natural resources.

Within the core and periphery of empire Romanticism has been prrimarily defined through its relationship to the modernizing core. It was a quest for otherness to the cash nexus and instrumental reason of industrial capitalism; an otherness in the form of troubling quest for criticism in the name of pre-modern values.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at February 12, 2004 02:42 PM | TrackBack
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