British-born Australian Painter, 1856-1931
Australian painter of English birth. A leader of the HEIDELBERG SCHOOL and pioneer of plein-air Impressionism in Australia, he has been described as 'the father of Australian landscape painting'. Having moved to Melbourne in 1869, he studied at the East Collingwood and Carlton Schools of Design and the National Gallery of Victoria's School of Art (1874-81) while working as a photographic assistant. He led sketching expeditions with Frederick McCubbin and initiated student requests for reforms at the school. Returning to England, he enrolled in the Royal Academy Schools, London, on 6 December 1881, officially recommended by Edwin Long. In the summer of 1883 he toured Spain with the painter John Peter Russell. He learnt something of French Impressionism from Spanish art students Ramon Casas and Loreano Barrau (b 1864), and then followed the latter's advice to visit the Academie Julian in Paris. He returned to Melbourne in 1885 and the following year established the first summer camp at Box Hill with McCubbin and Louis Abrahams (1852-1903), portrayed in his painting the Artists' Camp (c. 1886; Melbourne, N.G. Victoria). According to the painter Arthur Streeton, it was Roberts's 'quick perception and expression of the principles of Impressionism in the year 1886,
(1894, oil on canvas, 71.1 x 86.4 cm) by Tom Roberts (1856?C1931).