Scarvell was a student of William Lister Lister and exhibited regularly with the Art Society of New South Wales in the 1890s. She was an exponent of Australian Impressionism and painted en plein air and her work is represented in the S.H. Ervin collection and the Art Gallery of NSW. Scarvell was selected to be included in the Exhibition of Australian Art in London organised by the Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and held at Grafton Galleries in September 1898. She was represented by five paintings including (Liverpool Range, Murrurundi, NSW). The exhibition featured 114 artists, including the well-known leaders of the Australian Impressionist movement, Streeton; Roberts; Conder; McCubbin; as well as a number of women artists, whose names have not become as celebrated today.

The subject of Glenalvon, Murrurundi seems to be one Scarvell painted on several occasions, the rural landscape around the mountains of the Liverpool Ranges in the Upper Hunter region of NSW. The pastoral town of Murrurundi is surrounded by mountains, located on the banks of the Pages River, a tributary of the Hunter River and was the terminus of the northern train line from 1872. There is a harmonious use of colour, with the muted soft purples, grey and green of the background contrasted against the brighter green, blue and touches of pink in the foreground. The painterly marks, particularly evident in the depiction of the stream and grassy bank, and the focus point of yellow flowered pasture weed are reminiscent of archetypical Australian Impressionist paintings such as Charles Conder’s Herrick’s Blossom c.1888 and Arthur Streeton’s Golden Summer, Eaglemont 1889.

Glenalvon, Murrurundi 1895
oil on canvas
50 x 89 cm
signed lower right: J.E. Scarvell 95

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