Collection Online

Coming South

Artist/s name
oil on canvas
63.5 x 52.2 cm
Place/s of Execution
Melbourne, Victoria
Accession Number
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Colonel Aubrey H. L. Gibson (Rtd) in memory of John and Anne Gibson, settlers (1887), 1967
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Vizard Foundation
Gallery location
Gallery 6
Level 2, NGV Australia
About the work

Coming south is a definitive image of the migrant experience, and can be seen to be Tom Roberts's first exploration of one of the great themes of Australian life.

Returning to Australia, Tom Roberts travelled aboard the S S Lusitania in 1885 after four years in Europe. His sketches of the crowded deck provided the basis for this painting. Note the dual sources of power, steam and sail. All saloon passengers paid more money for the privilege of space and privacy, ensuring a more comfortable journey. To relieve the monotony and the limited world of shipboard life their day time was spent in conversation, sketching, writing letters and diaries, playing cards and games and even shooting seagulls. Their evenings were spent enjoying formal meals in splendid dining rooms, amusing themselves with music and dancing.