Throughout history, artists and designers have pushed the boundaries of convention in order to discover new and exciting forms of expression, according to Tony Ellwood, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria. He goes on to describe the reason people love the works of Impressionist artists so much is down to their ‘unique brushwork, colours and perspectives’.
For me, I’ve had an abiding love of the work by Australian Impressionists. This era brings out a sense of nostalgia in me from those days in my youth wandering through the great rooms of the Sydney National Gallery and seeing these giant oil paintings of a bygone era.
Last year the National Gallery of Victoria held the She-Oak and Sunlight: Australian Impressionism exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre which had more than 250 works drawn from public and private collections around Australia, including the NGV Collection.
It showcased the much-loved movement: from the ground- breaking 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition and the Heidelberg group of painters, to Australian artists working in Europe around the turn of the century who were influenced by Claude Monet and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.
The key artists in the Australian Impressionist movement include Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Jane Sutherland, Charles Conder, Frederick McCubbin, and Clara Southern.
Tom Roberts’s iconic Shearing the Rams, 1890, (seen in the hero image) which depicts sheep shearers plying their trade in a timber shearing shed, and Clara Southern’s An old bee farm, Warrandyte c.1900, a nostalgic vision of the landscape, painted in a soft palette of twilight tones were among those paintings exhibited.
Here is a selection of some of the fine work that was on display.
The Pioneer (seen above) was painted in 1904 by Australian artist Frederick McCubbin. The painting is a triptych; the three panels tell a story of a free selector and his family making a life in the Australian bush. Widely considered one of the masterpieces of Australian art, I remember being mesmerised by these three images as a young girl and they still captivate me all these years later.