This painting was the second Australian picture acquired for the collection of the Museum of Art – the predecessor of the National Gallery of Victoria – at the Melbourne Public Library. It was the winner of the £200 prize offered by the Victorian Fine Arts Commissioners in 1863 for the best work of art produced in Australia within the year.
Its picturesque charm ensured that it soon became one of the most popular works in the Gallery and in 1875, when the Trustees published a collection of photographic reproductions of their principal pictures, This work, together with Louis Buvelot’s Waterpool near Coleraine (sunset) were the only two Australian works included. Marcus Clarke, who wrote the now-famous text for the publication preferred not to comment on The Buffalo Ranges, Victoria, quoting instead from the Argus:
There is an alpine chain, snowclad, dark, as belongs to the sublime and precipitous, and full of the grandest reminiscences of the old world. Clad with verdure to the line of almost eternal snow, it affords us a distinguishing feature in the varied beauties of Australia Felix. Mr. Chevalier has not before painted a better or more characteristic picture; the rich foreground surrounding the old water-wheel – especially the rock-work, with its fine lichen clothing – is a beautiful piece of painting. In the centre there is a grove, which displays in a very brilliant manner the effect of the sylvan sunlight peculiar to our clime. The mountains are almost verdure–clad to the top, and the scene as a whole, almost reminds one of Chamounix [sic]. A watercourse, most beautifully introduced, supplies a defect in Australian landscape; and life is given to the picture by the bullockteam in the foreground. (Argus, 27 Dec. 1864, p. 6)
Text © National Gallery of Victoria, Australia