1 Mezijin

Shearing The Rams Essays

Julian Ashton., Daily telegraph, ‘National Art Gallery: The Australian Court’, Sydney, 27 Sep 1905, unknown (illus.).

Robert Campbell, Paintings of Tom Roberts, Adelaide, 1962, 5.

Rob Ditessa', Artist's palette, 'Icons on show', pg. 54-59, Sydney, 2000, 57 (colour illus.).

John Dunn, Outback, 'Legends of the outback: Australian painters inspired by the bush', pg. 72-78, Neutral Bay, Jun 2004-Jul 2004, 75.

Deborah Edwards, Two centuries of Australian painting: a selection from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Introduction', pg. 8-14, Sydney, 1986, front cover (colour illus.), 9, 21. cat.no. 11; titled 'The Golden Fleece: shearing at Newstead'

Deborah Edwards, Stampede of the Lower Gods: Classical Mythology in Australian Art, 'The Antipodean Arcady / 'When Pan purloined Apollo's lyre'', pg. 8-31, Sydney, Sep 1989, 31.

Elizabeth Fortescue., Daily telegraph, 'Aussie icon back in the frame', Sydney, 21 Jul 2010, (colour illus.). Conservator Barbara Dabrowa pictured next to painting; page unknown

Anne Grey, Tom Roberts, 'Tom Roberts: La vita con brio', pg. 11-30, Canberra, 2015, 14, 16, 17, 26, 27, 31, 40, 41, 42, 56, 64, 208, 210 (colour illus.), 211, 215, 349. cat.no. 69

Ali Gripper., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Great art starts with the framework', Sydney, 04 Aug 2000, page unknown. Article about restoration of frames for the 'Australian Icons' exhibition and features a photograph of Installation Crew with 'Holiday in Essex'.

David Hansen, Australian Impressionism, 'National Naturalism', pg. 281-287, Melbourne, 2007, 286-287, 345, 293 (colour illus.). cat.no. 15.6

Janet Hawley, Good Weekend, 'Tom Roberts Bailed Up', pg. 32-39, Sydney, 24 Feb 1996, 33, 36 (colour illus.), 37, 39.

John Henshaw (Editor), The golden age of Australian painting - Impressionism and the Heidelberg school, Melbourne, 1969, 62 (colour illus.).

Robert Hughes, The art of Australia, Melbourne, 1970, 57.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 118 (colour illus.).

Bruce James., The Australian, 'Review of Books', Sydney, 11 Dec 1996, 14-15.

Nigel Lendon, Australian art and architecture: essays presented to Bernard Smith, 'Ashton, Roberts and Bayliss: some relationships between illustration, painting and photography in the late nineteenth century', pg. 71-82, Melbourne, 1980, 78, 79 (illus.), 82.

Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. titled 'The golden fleece (Shearing at Newstead, N.S.W.)'; cat.no. 4

John McPhee, Australian art collector, 'Eye for an eye: the art of appreciation', pg. 98-101, Sydney, Apr 2000-Jun 2000, 98 (colour illus.).

Humphrey McQueen, Art Monthly Australia, 'Positions vacant', pg. 21-23, Canberra, Sep 2000, 21. Review of the 'Australian icons' exhibition.

Steve Meacham., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Shedding new light on a historic work of art', Sydney, 14 Mar 2009, (colour illus.). page unknown

Denise Mimmocchi, Australian Collection Focus: Sydney Long - Pan, 'Sydney Long: Pan', pg. 1-12, Sydney, 2009, 6, 7.

Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. cat.no. 61

Geraldine O'Brien, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Shear genius: festival goes for gold', pg. 11, Sydney, 13 Apr 1996, 11 (illus.).

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 18 (illus.).

Barry Pearce, Southern reflections: 10 contemporary Australian artists, 'An Introduction to Australian Art', pg. 34-42, Sydney, 1998, 36 (colour illus.). fig.no. 5

Barry Pearce, The Weekend Australian, 'Time makes its judgment', pg. 2-3, Sydney, 12 Aug 2000-13 Aug 2000, 2 (colour illus.). This colour supplement is a 'Review Special' published for the 'Weekend Australian'. It consists of a four-page, colour wrap-around for the 'Weekend Australian Review'. 'The Australian' was the media sponsor for the AGNSW Exhibition 'Australian Icons', for the Olympic Arts Festival 2000.

Barry Pearce, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Introduction', pg. 10-16, Sydney, 2000, 13, 37-38, 60 (colour illus.), 302.

Barry Pearce, Art treasures: candidate citites for the 2000 Olympic Games: Beijing, Berlin, Brasilia, Istanbul, Manchester, Sydney, 'The Golden Fleece - shearing at Newstead', pg. 166, Lausanne, 1993, 166, 167 (colour illus.). cat.no. 4

Jo Anne Pomfrett, Insites, 'Conservation: Newstead homestead', pg. 9, Glebe, Summer 2004, 9.

Ron Radford, Tom Roberts, ‘The Father of Australian Landscape Painting?’, pg. 10-19, Adelaide, 1996, 10, 82, 90, 96, 100, 104, 106, 112, 116, 120, 124, 138, 206.

Andrew Stephenson, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Tom's people', pg. 3, Sydney, 09 Jan 2001, 3. pg. 3 of Summer Metropolitan section.

Annette Tapp, Federation: Australian art and society 1901-2001, 'Weighing the fleece', pg. 103, Canberra, 2000, 103.

Daniel Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Tom Roberts', pg. 466-487, Sydney, Jul 1969, 472 (illus.), 473.

Daniel Thomas, Wool in the Australian imagination, The Golden Fleece: wool in Australian art', pg. 60-71, Glebe, 1994, 66, 67 (colour illus.), 194.

Helen Topliss, Seeing the first Australians, 'Tom Roberts' Aboriginal portraits', pg. 110-136, Sydney, 1985, 112, 113 (illus.), 124. plate no. 8.3

Unknown, Tom Roberts 1856-1931: a catalogue raisonné. Volume 1 - Text, Melbourne, 1985, cover (colour illus.), 130-31. titled 'Shearing at Newstead'; cat.no. 216

Unknown, Images in opposition: Australian landscape painting 1801–1890, 'Contrasting lights', pg. 135-154, Melbourne, 1985, 150.

Encyclopedia of Australian Art (Vol.1, A-K), Hawthorn East, 1984, 604-605.

Unknown and Unknown (Editors), Portrait of a Gallery, 'Australian Art in the Old Courts', pg. 24-37, Sydney, 1984, 34, 36 (colour illus.).

The shearers, Melbourne, 1982, cover (colour illus.).

Australian impressionist painters: a pictorial history of the Heidelberg school, Windsor, 1981, 88. plate no. 57

Old master paintings from the USSR: A survey of four centuries of European art. Report, Sydney, 1979. cat.no. 56

Unknown (Editor), Daily Mirror, 'Artist gave life to spirit of Australian bush', pg. 24, Sydney, 20 Jul 1978, 24.

Unknown, Tom Roberts, Melbourne, 1978, 70, 81 (colour illus.), 92-94, 149. plate no. 25

Unknown (Editor), Parade, 'Tom Roberts: father of Australian landscape painting', pg. 25-27, Sydney, Apr 1973, 25, 26, 27.

Unknown and Unknown, 100 masterpieces of Australian painting, Adelaide, 1973, 74, 75 (colour illus.). plate no. 34

Unknown, A catalogue of Australian oil paintings in the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1875-1952, Sydney, 1953, 175, 176. titled 'The Golden Fleece' (called 'Shearing at Newstead' in the Cat. of the Art Soc. of N.S.W. An. Ex. 1894).

Art in Australia [series 3, no. 70], Sydney, Mar 1938, 40 (illus.).

Unknown, Tom Roberts: father of Australian landscape painting, Melbourne, 1935, 32.

Fifty years of Australian art 1879-1929, New South Wales, 1929, 17 (colour illus.).

Unknown, Catalogue: British Empire Exhibition (Wembley) 1924, 1924, 97. titled 'The Golden Fleece'.

National Art Gallery of NSW: illustrated catalogue, Sydney, 1906, (illus.).

The Bookfellow: a monthly magazinelet for book-buyers and book-readers [no. 4], Sydney, 29 Apr 1899, 28.

Unknown, Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1899, Sydney, 1899, 45 (sepia illus.). titled 'The Golden Fleece'; cat.no. 246

The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Australian art in London', pg. 7, Sydney, 12 May 1898, unknown. Review of Australian painting exhibition held at Grafton Gallery, London.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Art Society's exhibition', pg. 3, Sydney, 28 Sep 1894, 3. titled 'Shearing at Newstead'

Art Society of New South Wales Fifteenth Annual Exhibition Catalogue, 1894, 30 (illus., detail). titled 'Shearing at Newstead'; cat.no. 300; priced £275.0.0

Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1893, Sydney, 1893. titled 'The Golden Fleece - Shearing at Newstead'; cat.no. 431

Sydney mail, 'The founder of Impressionism in Australia', Sydney, 10 Jun 1926, (illus.). page unknown; see AGNSW Press Clippings Aug. 1925 - June 1927

Unknown, SÅ FRÄMMANDA DET LIKA: Samisk konst i ljuset av religion och globalisering, 'X Konst som kreativ dekolonialisering: fyra teman i den australiska diskursen', pg. 335-362, Norway, 2009, 355 (illus.). fig.no. 10.15

Sotheby's Melbourne: Important Australian Art, 25 & 26 August 2008, Australia, 2008, 47, 48 (colour illus.). Related work 'Shearing shed, Newstead', lot no. 20.

Unknown, Art of Australia. Vol 1: Exploration to Federation, ‘Individual and national feeling’, pg. 545-610, Sydney, 2008, 580, 581 (colour illus.).

Unknown (Editor), Tom Roberts Festival 2006: Heritage tour, Inverell, 2006, 3, 21, 30, 31 (illus.).

Unknown, The people in the paintings: a research report for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Inverell, 2006, 1, 2, 5-36, 6 (colour illus.).

Society and environment for Western Australia 2, 'Australian perspective', pg. 36-39, Milton, 2005, 36 (colour illus.).

Unknown (Editor), Radical revisionism: an anthology of writings on Australian art, 'Tom Roberts: "Where the sun never set"', pg. 163-174, Brisbane, 2005, 47 (colour illus.), 171, 172. fig.no. 19

SOSE alive 3, 'Australian perspectives', pg. 84-87, Milton, 2004, 84 (colour illus.).

The families of William Henry Lowe and Keziah Lowe nee Mansfield of Inverell - Swanvale - Glen Innies: compiled by their grandchildren, 2003-2004, 1 (colour illus.). William Henry Lowe is the shearer standing third on the left in the painting 'The Golden Fleece'. This family history was compiled by his grandchildren, Val Sharp (Newcastle) and Doug Colley, 2003-2004.

Unknown, Transformations in Australian art: The nineteenth century - landscape, colony and nation [Volume One], 'The divided meaning of 'Shearing the Rams': artists and nationalism, 1888-1895', pg. 66-106, St Leonards, 2002, 84, 87, 95, 97 (illus.), 98-99. fig.no. 3.12

1901: Australian life at federation: an illustrated chronicle, 'Riding on the sheep's back: the wool industry', pg. 51-57, Sydney, 2001, 53 (colour illus.).

Unknown, Tom Roberts Art Exhibition. Tom Roberts Festival 2001, Inverell, 2001, 11.

Unknown and Unknown, Ecological pioneers: a social history of Australian ecological thought and action, 'Seeing the land in a new light: people and landscapes in Australian art', pg. 34-71, Cambridge, 2001, 48.

Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterley, Sydney, Jul 1969, 472-73 (illus.).

Corowa Free Press, 'Old painting found at Corowa', Corowa, 02 Apr 1963. Author and page unknown.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, A selection of eighty-two reproductions mainly from the Australian collection and including examples from the British, French and Dutch [Art Gallery of New South Wales], Sydney, 1959, (colour illus.). plate no. 7

Unknown (Editor), Australian artist, 'Australian Icons at the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 4-5, Chatswood, Aug 2000, 5 (colour illus.).

Unknown, Aspects of Australian art, Sydney, 2000, (colour illus.). card no. 2: Tom Roberts 'The Golden Fleece' 1894

Heritage NSW, 'Conservation of a woolshed', pg. 14, Parramatta, Oct 1999, 14 (colour illus.). Special focus on rural heritage in NSW and the conservation of the Newstead North woolshed where Tom Roberts set 'The Golden Fleece'.

White Aborigines, 'The Bad Conscience of Impression', pg. 52-73, London, 1998, 62, 63 (illus.).

Eyewitness travel guides: Australia, 'Botanic gardens and the domain', pg. 100-111, London, 1998, 107 (colour illus.).

Art Connections, 'An example of writing using the social and cultural analysis plan', pg. 50-52, Port Melbourne, 1998, 49 (colour illus.).

Australia Explored by the Great South Pacific Express, 'Arts of Australia', pg. 32-35, Australia, 1998, 34 (colour illus.).

The Australian, Sydney, 28 Sep 1996, 24, 26-27.

Tom Roberts, Sydney, 1996, 382-3, 388, 433-4.

Economic Activity: Issues and Economies, South Yarra, 1996, 273.

Tom Roberts, Sydney, 1996, back (colour illus.).

Unknown, AGNSW Collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 8, 16 (colour illus.).

Work through the eyes of artists., England, 1993, 36 (illus.).

10 Masterpieces of Australian Painting, Sydney, 1993, (colour illus.).

Veranda: Embracing Place, Pymble, 1992, 151-2 (colour illus.).

Unknown, City bushmen: the Heidelberg school and the rural mythology, Melbourne, 1985, 122, 124-125. plate no. 20

Unknown, Tom Roberts 1856-1931: a catalogue raisonné. Volume 2 - Plates, Melbourne, 1985. plate no. 98

Under the title Australian Impressionism, the National Gallery of Victoria has grouped together an enormous collection of 245 paintings from the final two decades of the 19th century. The pictures were created in a common enthusiasm for outdoor (or "plein-air") painting, which was energetically embraced and defended beneath the banner of Impressionism.

The names are illustrious: Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, Charles Conder and Arthur Streeton. To this gregarious quartet, the exhibition adds the painter Jane Sutherland. Her works are respectable fluffy landscapes, mostly lyrical and mottled, with an interest in the heady atmosphere that characterises the group.

The artists collectively called themselves Impressionists and the title is now winning ground. The current exhibition, which is supported by an enormous and authoritative catalogue, devotes a lot of attention to the name. With a formidable line-up of art historians, the consensus is to call the group Australian Impressionists, even though the term invites an invidious and unflattering comparison with the radical French movement. Paintings like those of Monet are both earlier and more spectacular.

Other titles for the Victorian painters have been used in the past, such as the Heidelberg School; but in a witty essay, Leigh Astbury implies that it could more authentically be called the Box Hill School, which is the first of the artists' camps in the 1880s. So, by analogy to a similarly earthy and conservative American Impressionism, it seems that the art historians in the know have settled on Australian Impressionism.

Earth tones prevail in the pictures. They're mostly worked out in the traditional combination of brown and green and some are arranged in favour of light ochres and blue. Sometimes there are pinks and yellow; but they're in the pastel range. Many of the pictures are high-key; though many are also quite dark, notably the sombre atmospheric pictures in the famous 9 x 5 Exhibition in which the word "Impressionism" was put to the Australian public.

In French Impressionism, colours are put down in a far more fragmented energetic way, with relatively pure primaries and secondaries (arranged for complementary contrasts) bouncing off one another. This doesn't occur among our painters, who inflect the earth tonalities with a gentle lyrical dabbling of warm and cold, much as artists had done throughout the 19th-century landscape tradition, from Constable to Corot.

You could argue, of course, that Australia is a land without primary colours, apart from the blue sky and sometimes water. The rest is a fairly dusty set of sand, woods, eucalypt and wattle (when not in bloom) and grey-brown soils. This would explain the muted chromatic spread in some of the bush works.

Even in the urban scenes, the use of strong colour was possibly limited by the natural propensity of Victorian people to dress dowdily, with lots of good quality grey textile, manufactured in England, to last a lifetime. The current exhibition also contains a suite of portraits, revealing an astonishingly stuffy air.

But the painters don't suppress their palette because of ambient conditions alone. The painters love various times of day in which the colours are attenuated by a somewhat foggy veil. They tend to go for early morning or late in the afternoon when the intimate or spacious world of a cove or back-garden or a street becomes pensive and wistful. Some of the works have the full blast of daylight, but the famous Australian conditions of harsh sun are mostly tickled into rhapsodic dying vapours.

The scholarship in the exhibition is very thorough; and the origins of the paintings in the Symbolist movement - as opposed to the optical experiments of the Impressionists - are frequently confessed. The imagery in the hang is set out thematically to make this explicit. The wall close to the 9 X 5 pictures is dedicated to the deadly woman archetype ("femme fatale") sometimes adapted to the threatening local meteorology, as in Conder's Hot wind or the figure in Streeton's Spirit of the Drought.

Because of the persistence of these symbolist themes, the label of "Australian Naturalism" also cannot easily be used. Many pictures are sentimental, painted in a minor key, and do not have the positivist tenor of naturalist painting. There is a heavy debt to the Aesthetic Movement of England, lusting after refinement of an exquisite dilettantish kind.

The exhibition also draws attention to the production of the painters in Sydney. This beautiful city became an enchanted attraction for the Impressionists, thanks to its spectacular coast and balmy climate, which is so suitable for outdoor painting. Taken as a whole, the Sydney work is an exercise in seduction, where the hedonistic town seduced the painter and the painter attempts to beguile the spectator with luxurious views.

Although competent and often gorgeous, the Sydney work is a tad chocolate-boxy, with little to say or excite in an artistic sense. The pictures have the role of illustration. The heroic themes of labour and livelihood have largely leached out in the damp airs. The pictures have a gift-wrapped air, as if the landscape is a confection rather than a place with a history of struggle and work.

From here it's a relief to go into the final room of the exhibition, where the large and serious machines (or pompous subject pictures) closer to the turn of the century are displayed. These memorable works engage with cycles of life and luck, the seasons that dictate the labours and contain reflections on heroic industry and mortality. These works have sometimes been understood as disappointing the experimental moods of the 1880s in favour of patriotic nationalism. But they're earnest and grave, with a convincing grasp of the moral and the tragic.

The exhibition is solid, but it doesn't position the works with a new perspective, to tell us something that we don't already know and which helps towards a revaluation. The story of the Indigenous people who recently occupied the depicted lands is conspicuous by its absence. There is one Roberts portrait, Charlie Turner, from 1892, who came from the Darwin region rather than Victoria. But for the rest, the exhibition simply charts the triumphant spread of white settlement without any piety expressed for the reciprocal plight of the original inhabitants.

The main sense that you take away from the exhibition, apart from the self-evident handsomeness of the pictures, is a great knotty string of historical technicalities related to definition. They sometimes cause the authors stress and embarrassment in relation to French Impressionism, as when Jane Clark alleges that "Streeton's impressionism displays none of the French Impressionists' carefully controlled broken brushwork and analytical treatment of light and colour. He was, instead, a highly intuitive painter."

To set up the French guys as mechanistic by contrast to Streeton's intuitive method is wrong-headed. French painting is every bit as intuitive, the more so as it handled colours of a complementary kind in relation to form. This can never be managed so systematically, because it has to respond to contingent perceptual realities. French Impressionism is supremely intuitive and Streeton's handling of earth colours is much more prosaic and work-a-day.

Isolating the five painters from their academic colleagues and other instigators, such as Arthur Loureiro, is historically tendentious. It confers on the group an artificial breakthrough status; whereas, if you saw their works alongside the brown-green tonal pictures that were common at the time, the parallel would cast doubts on their innovativeness.

Given that so much of the conceptualising of this show is about names, perhaps the best collective name for the art would be the Australian Aesthetic Movement. The relationship with Impressionism invokes too many negatives and misses the attenuated sonorities that characterise these delicate moody pictures.

robert.nelson@artdes.monash.edu.au

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