Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Eliza Thurston

While Conrad Martens is the best known artist to paint in the Capertee area during the nineteenth century he wasn't the first, that honour seems to go to Eliza Thurston (1807-1873). Thurston painted a number of landscape views in the area during the 1860s. Her best known work in a public collection shows a panorama of the Capertee Valley taken from the Mudgee Road from the Crown Ridge (now known as Blackmans Crown). 

The inclusion of human figures on the lower left corner of the picture was a compositional device popular with artists at the time. These sightseers give the viewer foreground interest as well as a sense of scale which helped emphasize the monumental power of the picturesque subject matter in the background. While not a highly realistic rendering of the scene, Thurston's Mitchell Library work has great charm and shows that the panorama seen from the Crown was as popular then as it is today.

Capertee Valley taken from Crown Ridge, Sydney Road
1868 watercolour by Eliza Thurston
Mitchell Library collection

Eliza came from an established family of artists from Bath in western England. Eliza became an art teacher after she came to Australia in 1853. She lived for a few years during the mid to late 1860s with her (Mudgee based) photographer son Horatio Thurston (1838-1881). While resident there she produced her Capertee Valley works. She died in Sydney a few years later. Her daughter, Eliza West Thurston, was an amateur artist who painted mostly floral subjects. She worked as a teacher in Rylstone and spent her later years living in Mudgee.

For more information about Eliza Thurston please refer to her biographical entry in the Design and Art Australia Online (DAAO) website:

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