Twentieth – Twenty-First Century Australian Art (Gallery 14), Level 3
Australian Impressionism looks at ‘plein air’ and direct painting in Australia in the late nineteenth century. It focuses on the five major artists of the movement – Charles Conder, Frederick McCubbin, Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, and Jane Sutherland – in the momentous fourteen years from 1883 (Tom Roberts’ introduction to direct painting in Granada) to 1897 (Arthur Streeton’s departure for Europe).
The exhibition traces the development of the radical new landscape at Box Hill, Mentone and Heidelberg. It examines the lively art world of ‘Marvellous Melbourne’ and the staging of the famous 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition of August 1889. It follows Roberts and Streeton to New South Wales, to their camp at Sirius Cove and their expeditions to rural New South Wales, including the Hawkesbury River. It looks at the portraiture of Roberts and Streeton, and the emergence of Symbolism in the work of Conder and Streeton, and culminates in a survey of the first great ‘national’ pictures that emerged around the time of the centenary of the European settlement in Australia in 1888.
Australian Impressionism, the first exhibition on the subject since the ground-breaking and immensely popular exhibition Golden Summers: Heidelberg and beyond of 1985, seeks to redefine and introduce this important movement in Australian art history to a new generation. Over 240 works are included from famous iconic images to the lesser-known.