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


  • Title: The Buffalo Ranges
  • Creator: Nicholas Chevalier
  • Creator Lifespan: 09 May 1828 - 15 March 1902
  • Creator Nationality: Swiss; Australian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: London, England
  • Creator Birth Place: St Petersburg, Russia
  • Date Created: 1864
  • Location Created: Melbourne, Australia
  • Physical Dimensions: 132.4 x 183.7 cm (Unframed)
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1864, =A9 National Gallery of Victoria
  • External Link: National Gallery of Victoria
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Provenance: Exhibited National Gallery opening exhibition held by Fine Arts Commissioners, Melbourne, 1864; from where purchased by the Trustees, 1864.
  • Place Part Of: Australia
  • Additional information: Chevalier’s European background is evident in this work. Born in St Petersburg to Swiss and Russian parents, he received a broad artistic training in Lausanne, Munich, London and Rome before coming to Australia in 1854. In Melbourne, he worked as a freelance artist and designer, providing images for the illustrated press, and designing such diverse items as a ball-gown for the Governor’s lady and a sword for Garibaldi. He travelled extensively in search of landscape subjects, and in 1862 joined Professor Neumayer on his geological survey of Victoria. In 1867 he ‘covered’ the first royal visit, and subsequently joined the suite of the Duke of Edinburgh on board the Galatea. Upon his return to Great Britain, he received many commissions from the royal family.

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