We may have seen them before, but the prospect of the Australian Impressionism show is very alluring; it has now opened at the National Gallery in Canberra (until 31 October). The centrepiece is Arthur Streeton’s Golden Summer, Eaglemont which has just returned from its showing at the National Gallery, London. All of the NGA’s best examples of Australian impressionism are now hung together in a new display of more than 45 works. In addition to Streeton, it is an all-star cast including Roberts, Conder, McCubbin, Phillips Fox, Ashton, Russell and Bunny.
A number of these artists travelled several times between Melbourne and London or Paris, influenced by the movements and fashions they observed there.
Roberts studied in London from 1881- 85; in 1885 he painted one of his earliest surviving canvases: The sculptor’s studio (above) which is included in the exhibition along with a number of his most admired works. At 16, Conder travelled alone from London to Sydney to be trained as a surveyor. He soon decided he preferred painting the landscape to measuring it and became one of its outstanding interpreters, from beach to bush. Conder, Roberts and Streeton provided most of the works for the now celebrated 9 x 5 Impression Exhibition of 1889. The size of those attractive and significant pictures, came from the lids of cigar boxes the artists used. Happily, a number are included in this NGA celebration.
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