Tom Roberts

Thomas William "Tom" Roberts (8 March 1856 – 14 September 1931) was an English-born Australian artist and a key member of the Heidelberg School, also known as Australian Impressionism. After attending art schools in Melbourne, he travelled to Europe in 1881 to further his training, and returned home in 1885, "primed with whatever was the latest in art". He did much to promote en plein air painting and encouraged other artists to capture the national life of Australia. 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.
Through the 1880s and 1890s Roberts worked in Victoria, in his studio at the famous studio complex of Grosvenor Chambers at 9 Collins Street, Melbourne. In 1885 he started painting and sketching excursions to outer suburbs, creating camps at Box Hill and Heidelberg, where he worked alongside McCubbin, Arthur Streeton and Charles Conder, working on representing AustraliaŅs light, heat, space and distance.
Roberts made many other paintings showing country people working, with a similar image of the shearing sheds in The Golden Fleece (1894), a drover racing after sheep breaking away from the flock in A break away!, and with men chopping trees in Wood splitters (1886). Many of Roberts' paintings were landscapes or ideas done on small canvases that he did very quickly, such as his show at the famous 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition in Melbourne, "9 by 5" referring to the size in inches of the cigar box lids on which most of the paintings were done. Roberts had more works on display in this exhibition than anyone else.
In 1888 Roberts met Conder in Sydney and they painted together at Coogee beach. The younger Conder found these painting expeditions influential and decided to follow Roberts to Melbourne later that year to join him and Streeton at their artistsī camp at Heidelberg. While Conder painted Coogee Bay emphasising on the decorative qualities of form and colour, Robertsī Holiday sketch at Coogee(1888) embodies his primary focus on the landscapeīs natural effects. It is an early testament to Robertsī plein-air ģimpressionistī technique, which brought out the sunīs glare on the bright blue sea, bleached white sand, dry grass and spindly seaside vegetation.