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Tom Roberts
, 1920

by Alice Mills OAM

gelatin silver photograph (sight: 14.1 cm x 9.1 cm)

More images of this artwork

Tom Roberts (1856–1931), artist, came to Australia from England at the age of 13, but returned to study art in London. He arrived back in Melbourne in 1885 and established a successful portrait practice. At the same time, he began to paint outdoors with a number of other artists, including Charles Conder and Arthur Streeton, who came to be known as the ‘Heidelberg School’. Having lobbied hard for the establishment of a collection of portraits of Australian statesmen, he moved to England in 1903. There, he completed his vast ‘Big Picture’ of the opening of the Australian Parliament, but the project was exhausting, his eyesight dwindled, and he fell into a black period as the success he had hoped for in England eluded him. During the First World War he understated his age to work as an orderly at the Third London General Hospital, Wandsworth. He returned permanently to Australia in 1923, settling at Kallista in the Dandenongs. There, he mostly painted small landscapes and flower pieces.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Gerard Vaughan 2001
Accession number: 2001.11