Terra Collection Initiative: Continental Shift: Nineteenth-Century American and Australian Landscape Painting

Continental Shift: Nineteenth-Century American and Australian Landscape Painting is the result of an innovative partnership between the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Terra Foundation for American Art, the University of Western Australia, and University of Melbourne’s Ian Potter Museum of Art. The cross-cultural exhibition brings together nineteenth-century landscape paintings from Australia and the United States drawn from the collections of the partner institutions, including Australian paintings by John Glover, Eugene Von Guérard, Louis Buvelot, William Piguenit, and Frederick McCubbin, as well as American paintings by Thomas Cole, Martin Johnson Heade, Fitz Henry Lane, Sanford Robinson Gifford, and George Inness, among others. +

Continental Shift explores how the landscape traditions of colonial Australia and the early national United States recycled the familiar formats of European traditions or pioneered new forms for capturing the alterity of unfamiliar lands. The paintings in Continental Shift depict the dialectical relationship between clearing the land and worshipping the sublimity of wilderness. The cross-cultural exhibition and related course also explore the relevance of nineteenth-century Australian and American landscape paintings to current thinking on economic development, migration, cultural conflict, ethnic displacement, and climate change, and the Anthropocene.

Continental Shift will be accompanied by a two-day scholarly symposium (September 27–28, 2016) and a university course led by Professor Richard Read, Senior Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts at University of Western Australia. The course will be augmented by visiting lecturers, including two specialists from the United States, Professor Rachael Z. DeLue, Associate Professor of Art History at Princeton University, and Professor Kenneth Haltman, H. Russell Pitman Professor of Art History at the University of Oklahoma.

Continental Shift will be on view at the Art Gallery of Western Australia  before traveling to the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne, where the Terra Foundation’s U.S. paintings will be contextualized by Australian landscape paintings drawn from the Ian Potter’s renowned collection. As at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Ian Potter Museum of Art exhibition will be the subject of a university course and symposium.

Dates & Venues

July 30, 2016–February 5, 2017
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

March 14–June 11, 2017
Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, Australia

Works of Art from the Terra Foundation Collection


A selection of papers to be presented at two scholarly symposia related to Continental Shift at the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne will be published in 2018. The publication will bring together essays by prominent scholars of Australian, American, British, and German landscape painting and Aboriginal art to investigate the origins and cross-cultural meaning of landscape in colonial contexts.

Related Content

Press release: “International Partnership Prompts New Look at Historical American and Australian Artworks, Inspires Next Generation of Art Students,” Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, IL, July 30, 2016

Art Gallery of Western Australia

Related Videos

The following videos are from the international symposium Colonisation & Wilderness: Nineteenth-Century American and Australian Landscape Painting held at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth, Australia, on September 27–28, 2016.

Director’s welcome, welcome to the country by Barry McGuire, and symposium overview by Richard Read, and David Hansen (Australian National University) lecture “‘Hideous fidelity to nature’: John Glover and the Colonised Landscape”:

Richard Read (University of Western Australia), “Perception, History and Ecology: the Heritage of Molyneux’s Question in New World Landscape Painting”:

Ruth Pullin (independent scholar), “The Düsseldorf Effect in the Landscapes of the New World: Nineteenth-Century Science and Contemporary Environmental Relevance”:

Kenneth Haltman (University of Oklahoma), “The Reach of Desire: Figures and Structures of Predatory Looking in Early American and Australian Landscape”:

Rachael Z. DeLue (Princeton University), “Shoreline Landscapes and the Edges of Empire”:

David Peters Corbett (Courtauld Institute), “The Face of Time: George Caleb Bingham’s River Paintings”:

Christopher Pease (Western Australian artist), “European Representation and First Nation Experience: Robert Dale’s Panoramic View of King George Sound and Yagan’s Head”:

Catherine Speck (University of Adelaide), “Whisperings of Wilderness in Australian Centenary and Federation Landscapes”:

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