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March 5th, 2021

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Roberts, Tom (09-03-1856 to 14-12-1931)
Category: Artist

Tom Roberts was born in Dorchester, England, the son of the editor of the Dorset County Chronicle. At the age of twelve he emigrated to Australia with his mother and two siblings following the death of his father. He worked as a photographer's assistant in collongwood and later for Stewarts of Bourke Street, Melbourne's leading photographic studio.

He attended night School at the Collingwood Artisans' School of Design and progressed to the National Gallery Art School in 1874. It was here that he met anoher artist, Frederick McCubbin. In 1881 he enrolled and attended the Royal Academy School in London, but by 1885 he had returned to Australia to set up an outdoor painting camp with McCubbin in Box Hill. Further painting camps saw the two meet Artur Streeton and Charles Conder, all of which formed the core of the Heidelberg School. An exhibition of their work in 1889 confirmed the distinctively Australian artistic vision of this school of painting.

Some of his more significant paintings include "The Breakaway" and "Shearing the Rams". Roberts was commissioned by the Australian Art Society to paint the opening of the Australian Parliament in January 1901, a project which took two years to complete. Following the completion of the painting he travelled to Europe. Spending the duration of the First World War in an English hospital as an orderly, he returned to Australia in 1919.

He remained in Australia, spending time in Tasmania and the Dandenong Ranges, where he died in 1931.

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