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Art History and Australian Art

            To develop an understanding of artworks and the art world in general, it is important to take into consideration the relationship between the artwork, artist, world and audience. By observing a range of artists, this essay will give insight into the influence of historical context and of the audience on the artist's intention, and how the meaning of artworks can change over time. Historical context refers to the conditions that existed in a certain time; it plays a vital role in determining the structure and interpretation of an artwork. Eugene von Guerard, for example, is a colonial artist whose artworks are strongly influenced by historical context. He used wide perspectives in his paintings of Australian landscapes to establish a sense of scale and grandeur. He also included symbols such as birds and rays of light to signify the presence of God. These details and techniques are typical of the European Romantic traditions in the nineteenth century. It is important, therefore, to consider the conditions and conventions of the period of time in which an artwork was created in order to fully understand the artistic intention. .
             View of Sydney from Rose Bay (1836), a watercolour painting by Conrad Martens, is another example of the influence of historical context on the artist's. The painting at first glance is a depiction of peaceful life on the harbour, with Aboriginal people seemingly enjoying their daily life. The subtle colonial mansions in the background, however, suggest the inhabitation of white people, the development of civilization as well as the receding of wilderness. By considering the time and place the painting was created, we can interpret the meaning behind certain details and symbols.
             The values, beliefs and theories of the intended audience are also important factors in determining the intention of the artist. For example, Joseph Lycett, a British forger who was evicted from England and forcibly transferred to Australia, was one of the earliest artists who recorded the Australian landscape.

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