Australian artists have provided some wonderful images of nature (the Outback). It was man's taming of nature during the 19th and early 20th centuriesthat was the focus. As might be expected, this was a theme also exceptionally addressed by two countries with similar experiences with nature--America and Russia. Two Australian artists, Arthur Streeton (1867-1943) and Tom Roberts (1856-1931) established an artist camp at Box Hill (near Melbourne) and later Heidelberg which has become the name of their school. Some children appear in their paintings as they were of course a part of the settlement of Australia. Roberts like many Australian professionals in the 19th and early 20th century was born and educated in England.
Tom was born in 1856 at Dorchester, Dorset, England. He grew up in England.
Roberts like many Australian professionals in the 19th and early 20th century was educated in England.
Robers was both a painter and photographer. Most of his important paintings were either done in Australia or of Australian scenes. He arrived in Geelong (1869) and settled in Collingwood. Louis Buvelot encouraged him to paint plein-air. This approach was further encouraged by an extended study tour of Europe (1881-1885). In the daus before air travel, quick trips back and forth from Australia were not possible are economically feasible. His first important exhibition with 62 works was after his return from Europe (1889). He with Arthur Streeton (1867-1943) founded the Heidelberg School of Australian art. They established an artist camp at Box Hill (near Melbourne) and later Heidelberg which has become the name of their school. Roberts traveled widely in Australia, living among the people and scenes he painted. [Johnson, p. 578.]
One of Robert's best known paintings is "Sharing the Rams" done in 1890 (fifure 1). The mainstay of the Australian economy were sheep. First the wool and later with refrigeration the meat became an important product as well. Here we see a young teenager presumably who has just left school working in sheraing shed. Australian boys like English boys routinely by the 1890s were wering kneepants. Many boys who had left school, however, wore long pants like the men.
He married Elizabeth (Lillie) Williamson at St. Hilary’s Anglican Church, East Kew.
Roberts and his wife returned to England (1903) They lived there through World war I.
The couple returned to Australia after the War (1923). They lived at ‘Talisman’, a small cottage in Kallista. He died there in 1931.
Johnson, Paul. Art: A New History (Harper Collins: New York, 2003), 777p.
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