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Landscape Transformation and Disease Emergence

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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DOI: 10.3201/eid1105.ac1105
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Letters.qxp ABOUT THE COVER Landscape Transformation and Disease Emergence Polyxeni Potter* During his long ocean passage to Australia in 1852, Eugene von Guérard reported that conditions were far from ideal, and “meals were late and bad” (1). He had boarded a sailing ship at Gravesend, England, to seek his fortune in Victoria. At the gold fields of Ballarat, he described mining as “arduous at first” and causing “much backache and blistering of hands” (1). His gold mining efforts in Ballarat and environs were unsuccessful, and after a year, he aban- doned the venture. Even so, he had struck gold. His illustrated diaries chroni- cled the history of the region, the harsh life of the gold digger, and the scarring of landscape from gold mining. He opened a studio in Melbourne, soon to become the most important Australian artist of his day. The son of an artist and court painter, von Guérard was born in Vienna, Austria. He toured Italy with his father and lived in Rome for a while, where he became familiar with the work of famed French landscapists Claude Lorraine and Nicholas Poussin. Later, he studied landscape painting at the Dusseldorf Academy, where he was influenced by German romanticism—a movement that also dwelled on the visual aspects of nature. During his 30 years in Australia, he became a renowned landscape painter, as well as teacher and honorary curator at the National Gallery in Victoria. He died in London, where he had settled near the end of his life (2). The 1850s gold rush that lured von Guérard to Victoria coincided with a revived interest in landscape painting, particularly in Australia and the United States (the Hudson River School). In the midst of 19th-century urbanization grew longing to connect with nature. Travelers sought areas of untouched wilderness, and artists labored to bring exotic freshness to the homebound. From his studio in Melbourne, von Guérard traveled to and explored many regions, among them timbered Illawarra and Tasmania, seeking the picture

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