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Australian art Australian Impressionism

During the 1880s a group of artists – principally Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton and Charles Conder – established painting camps on the outskirts of Melbourne. They aimed for 'truth to nature' and worked in the open air, sketching quickly, applying their paint rapidly – capturing instantaneous impressions. The resulting oil sketches, which they considered to be finished works of art, were exhibited in their groundbreaking 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition, held in Melbourne in August 1889. Many of the works exhibited were painted on cedar cigar box lids (measuring 9 inches by 5 inches – 23 cm x 13 cm). This much-loved group of Australian artists has been referred to as the Heidelberg School, after the site of one of their painting camps at Eaglemont, near Heidelberg. They painted in a variety of locations in Victoria and in New South Wales, including Sirius Cove on Sydney Harbour; and they generally painted larger works, such as Streeton’s iconic Golden summer, Eaglemont 1889 and Roberts’s In a corner on the Macintyre 1895. Many of the works of the Australian Impressionists remain the most iconic and popular images in Australian culture.

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