Roberts, McCubbin, Streeton and Conder

Australian Impressionist Painters (Heidelberg School)

In the summer of 1886–1887, Australian Impressionist painters Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin and Louis Abrahams walked to the Beaumaris cliffs from a rented house in rapidly developing Mentone.

Roberts wrote of his meeting with the young apprentice lithographer Arthur Streeton who was ‘standing out on wet rocks painting’. His work, commented Roberts, ‘was full of light and air’.

Roberts, McCubbin, Streeton and later Charles Conder, all painted memorable pictures of the shores of Beaumaris and Mentone, capturing the light, beauty and interest of the scenes. Sketching and painting en plein-air (out of doors) was important to the men and women who became known as the Australian Impressionists.

In 1886 Roberts and others had camped at Box Hill, where Roberts sought to capture the light and colour of the bush. Later Streeton set up the artists’ camp at Eaglemont, near Heidelberg and the term ‘Heidelberg School’ was coined.

Tom Roberts (1851–1931) painted both outdoors and in the studio and organised the famous 9 by 5 Impressions Exhibition. He painted The Sunny South in 1887 at Ricketts Point.

Frederick McCubbin (1855–1917) sketched frequently and studied at the National Gallery School, where he became the much loved drawing master known as ‘The Prof’.

Perhaps McCubbin’s best known Bayside painting is Moyes Bay Beaumaris, 1887, also known as The Shore. (The Moyes is probably a version of Moysey – the name of the first British settlers in Beaumaris).Arthur (later Sir Arthur) Streeton (1867–1943) was the youngest of the group who painted at Beaumaris and Mentone.

His lively painting Mentone 1887 shows a young girl standing on a wave swept shore, which appears to be Ricketts Point rather than Mentone.

Charles Conder (1868–1909) became part of the group of young Australian Impressionists following a meeting in Sydney with Tom Roberts in the summer of 1887–1888. He studied under Frederick McCubbin, taught painting to young ladies, and designed the cover for the 9 by 5 Impressions Exhibition. Conder painted the evocative Ricketts Point in 1890.

Page last updated: 10 Dec 2010