Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne
In 1853, the lieutenant-governor of Victoria, Charles La Trobe (1801–1875), relinquished 10 acres of the police paddock in Yarra Park to the Melbourne Cricket Club for the construction of a new cricket stadium, as the club’s original ground was in the path of a planned steam train route. By the time the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) was built, the club was still only 15 years old, and the city of Melbourne itself only 20.
Produced 11 years later for The Melbourne album, this lithograph depicts a cricket match between England and Victoria, held on the first day of 1864. The ground has a small grandstand on one side, box seats for important guests, and an open area for the less-wealthy members of the public (some of whom can be seen climbing trees to obtain a better view!)
The Melbourne album, a series of 24 lithographs published by Charles Troedel in 1863–64, is considered ‘perhaps the finest work of urban topography produced in Australia in the nineteenth century’ (Jonathan Wantrup, Australian rare books). The album features several significant artists, in this example lithographer François Cogné, while there are others created after designs by artists Eugène von Guérard (1811–1901) and Nicholas Chevalier (1828–1902).
The University of Melbourne’s curriculum is rich and varied, and changes from year to year. For more teaching ideas, contact a collection manager.
Sport, Education and the Media
Consider cricket’s place (or sport’s place more generally) in society in the 19th century (when this image was created), in comparison to its place today. Examine the lithograph closely and consider the demographic of the 19th-century sports viewer.
Global Literature and Postcolonialism
Discuss the cultural features of 19th-century Melbourne that may have influenced contemporaneous postcolonial literature.
Creative Non Fiction
Discuss the narrative that can be drawn from this lithograph and the various broader topics that it could be used for. How can original images best be used to contribute to works of historical creative non-fiction?
Consider the Melbourne Cricket ground and other 19th-century landmarks, to discuss the needs and values of the city’s first inhabitants and how they shaped Melbourne’s early urban identity.
Discuss early architectural and urban interventions in Melbourne’s first few decades of existence (the MCG for example) and their response to the environment around them. Consider the historical changes made to these sites up until their present form.
Look at images of early 1860s Melbourne in The Melbourne album and discuss the social, economic and industrial needs that shaped the nascent city and its first landmarks.
Consider the present image and the didactic text that could accompany it in an exhibition. Before knowing the broader exhibition context, think of as many different angles as possible from which this image could be presented to the viewer (for example, sports, printmaking, social history, urbanism), and prepare a short paragraph.
Melbourne Cricket Ground (1st January 1864) was printed on a lithography press imported from Europe in 1863. Consider the place and influence of lithography, or printmaking in general, on the art of 19th-century Melbourne. (Artist Arthur Streeton, for example, served as an apprentice lithographer at Charles Troedel & Co.)
To learn more, visit the website of the Ian Potter Museum of Art.
John Poynter & Benjamin Thomas, Miegunyah: The bequests of Russell and Mab Grimwade, Melbourne: Miegunyah Press, 2015.
Olga Tsara, ‘Troedel & Co.: Master printers and lithographers’, La Trobe Journal, no. 62, Spring 1998,