Tom Roberts


Artist Biography:

Thomas William "Tom" Roberts was an Australian artist and a key member of the Heidelberg School, also known as Australian Impressionism. Roberts was born in Dorchester, Dorset, England, although some mystery surrounds his actual birthdate. He migrated with his family to Australia in 1869 to live with relatives. After attending art schools in Melbourne, he left for Europe in 1881 to further his training, and returned home in 1885 where he started painting and sketching excursions to outer suburbs. He created camps at Box Hill and Heidelberg, where he worked alongside McCubbin and Arthur Streeton. In 1888 Roberts met Conder in Sydney and they painted together at Coogee beach. Roberts’ ‘Holiday sketch at Coogee (1888)’ embodies his primary focus on the landscape’s natural effects. It is an early testament to Roberts’ plein-air ‘impressionist’ technique, which brought out the sun’s glare on the bright blue sea, bleached white sand, dry grass and spindly seaside vegetation. While he is best known for his "national narratives", among them ‘Shearing the Rams (1890)’, ‘A break away! (1891)’ and ‘Bailed Up (1895)’, he also achieved renown as a portraitist.

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