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Wednesday 3 July 2024

Carl Schwarzburger’s wood-engraving, “Fern-Tree Gully”, c1886

Carl Schwarzburger (1850–?)

“Fern-Tree Gully”, c1886, wood engraving after an unacknowledged photograph of tree-ferns near Healesville in Victoria, Australia, by Nicholas John Caire (1837–1918), “Fairy Scene at the Landslip, Blacks’ Spur”, c1878 (see—with a touch creative invention by Schwarzburger, especially regarding the inclusion of a swagman into the composition making his way through the dense forest of tree-ferns with his dog—from the first volume of the “Picturesque Atlas of Australasia”, published in Sydney in three volumes of forty-two parts between 1886 and 1888 by The Picturesque Atlas Publishing Co., edited by Andrew Garran (1825–1901).

Interestingly, the National Gallery of Victoria in its wall didactic describing Caire’s photograph which inspired this engraving advises: “The ancient associations of tree ferns were of particular interest to the colonial audience, with ‘fern fever’, or pteridomania, sweeping the British Empire. The photographer expressed his enchantment with such landscapes, he wrote of their ability to bestow a feeling of ‘ecstatic bewilderment’ to anyone who visited.”

Wood-engraving on wove paper with wide margins as published.

Size: (sheet) 45.5 x 34.7 cm; (image borderline) 27.7 x 18 cm.

Inscribed within the image borderline: (lower right) “C Schwarzburger fe”

Lettered below the image: (centre) “FERN-TREE GULLY.”

Condition: a strong and near faultless impression with generously wide margins. Beyond significant but pale foxing in the margins, the sheet has no tears, holes, abrasions or folds. 

I am selling this large and very beautiful wood-engraving exemplifying the fascination with tree-ferns in the late 1800s leading to phenomenon known as “fern fever” (or pteridomania), for AU$213 in total (currently/approximately US$142.15/EUR132.33/GBP112.07 at the time of posting this listing) including Express Mail (EMS) postage and handling to anywhere in the world, but not (of course) any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries. Note that payment is in Australian dollars (AU$213) as this is my currency.

If you are interested in acquiring this marvellously engaging image of a swagman with his accompanying dog finding their way through a lush tree-fern forest—possibly with the goal of finding future employment at the end of their trek—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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