Another of his better known paintings of the Geelong region which also hangs at the Geelong Art Gallery is Mr Lewin's hut on the Barwon River. Like View of Geelong, this painting was also developed from an earlier pen and ink sketch, in this case, completed some time before 1860. Unlike some of the sketches however, finding the location of this one did not prove so difficult. A short trip down today's Deviation Rd will provide a very similar perspective to that of the painting.
With a little research however, we were able to determine exactly where von Guerard was when he made the initial sketch. At the bottom of the original piece was the annotation "view from Fritz Wilhelmberg, Hern Hill". Who or what was Fritz Whilhelmberg?
At this point, it was TROVE to the rescue. In the Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer of 9th January, 1855, I found a birth notice. Mrs F. Bauer had given birth to a son at her residence - Fritz Wilhelm Berg, Herne Hill. Another quick search revealed a double block of land purchased by Frederick Baner(sic), on the hill directly above Deviation Rd and perfectly positioned to be the location where the sketch was made. "Baner" must surely be a mis-transcription of "Bauer". A German name.
|A section of the 1953 survey map of the Parish of Moorpanyal showing the two|
blocks of land purchased by Bauer. Image held by the State Library of Victoria
|Original sketch drawn by Eugene von Guerard, over looking the Barwon|
Valley below Herne Hill
|Mr Lewin's Hut on the Barwon River, Eugene von Guerard, 1860|
|Slightly below von Guerard's view, Barwon Valley, 20th July, 2016|
|'Raith'. Image taken from Property Price History|
|The view west from above Levien's farm, 24th April, 1854, Eugene von Guerard|
The buildings in the foreground of the above sketch are described as "Lewin's farm" and probably represent Levien's house which may or may not still have been operating as an inn by 1854 (the last reference to the inn I could locate in the newspapers was in 1852).
Confusingly however, the sketch and subsequent painting called Mr Lewin's hut on the Barwon River was made at 'Fitzwilhelmberg' which is around 900m upstream from the buildings indicated as Lewin's farm in the sketch dated the 24th April. Given the later date of the painting - 1860 - had Levien perhaps taken possession of the hut upstream by that time, or was there some confusion or slip of the memory between the drawing of the two sketches in 1854 and the completion of the painting in 1860? The original sketch made from 'Raith' does not mention Levien/Lewin or give a name to the hut in the foreground, yet the painting does. It is also possible I am informed, that the painting may not have acquired its name until a later stage - perhaps it was a curatorial decision during an exhibition of the painting - meaning that the confusion may not have arisen until quite some time later. As can be seen above, the sketch (re-combined here by George Hook) incorporates a wider view than the later painting and it is on this larger sketch that the attribution "view from Fritz Wilhelmberg, Hern Hill" is written. Perhaps the original attribution was lost when the size of the sketch was reduced.
Finally, just to muddy the waters a little further, by the mid-1870s, Benjamin Levien had purchased the Bauer's former home 'Fritzwilhelmberg'. "Mr Lewin" was now the owner not just of a hut, but of a substantial house.