Lines and Colors art blog

Eye Candy for Today: Conrad Martens landscape

One of the falls on the Apsley, Conrad Martens
One of the falls on the Apsley, Conrad Martens

Watercolor and gouache, 18 x 24 inches (66 x 46 cm); in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria. Their image is zoomable, even though they don’t give a visible indication to that effect — click on their image to enlarge. There is also a zoomable version on Google Art Project and a downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons.

Though the landscape looks like a cross between Chinese ink paintings of stylized mountains and a fantasy artist’s interpretation of Conan Doyle’s Lost World, this beautiful watercolor by English-Australian painter Conrad Martens is of a real place in New South Wales, Australia.

Reportedly, Martens exaggerated the height a bit for dramatic effect, confronted with the challenge of conveying the feeling of a place like this in an relatively small painting.

Martins has combined transparent and opaque watercolors here to great effect — in particular, using the bold qualities of the former in the foreground, and the delicate atmospheric quality of the latter in the distance.

I love the attention to the texture of the foreground trees, and little touches like the break in the trees at the top left of the middle prominence (images above, third down).

This is one of those dramatic landscape vistas that artists anchor to the foreground with closer details to give them scope and a point of context for the viewer. It’s intersting to compare this to another of Martens’ paintings of the same region, Apsley Falls, in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.


3 responses to “Eye Candy for Today: Conrad Martens landscape”

  1. I thought Japanese until I read your narrative. Certainly has an Oriental flavour doesn’t it?

    1. Yes. I don’t know much about Martens’ background, but I might assume he was influenced by Japanese prints like many European artists of the time.

  2. What a beauty!
    Every stroke a delight!
    The colours heavenly!