After his arrival in Melbourne in 1852 the artist Eugene von Guérard (1811-1901) made numerous trips into the countryside of Victoria to depict the scenery. One of these was an eight-week sketching trip to the north-central and western area of the state in 1864 when he stayed in the mining town of Daylesford with the local landowner, the Hon William Stanbridge.
The Victorian gold rush had transformed areas of the north-central part of the state such as this and Van Guérard captured the scene in this detailed view of Breakneck Gorge, Hepburn Springs. It depicts roads gouged through the mountain, the hastily erected dwellings of the prospectors and men at the base of the gorge panning for gold.
The work was acquired by Standbridge in the year it was painted and has remained in the family for the last 150 years, most recently on loan to the Geelong Art Gallery. The large, 21in x 3ft 2in (53 x 99cm), work will carry an estimate of Aus$1m-1.2m when it goes under the hammer in Sydney on May 3.