This tiny work belatedly records the artists' encampment at Little Sirius Cove, Sydney Harbour, which Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton shared with others in the early 1880s. The camps became centres for the innovative practice of plein-air painting, which took artists from their studios to work on canvases outdoors.
Roberts depicts his former painting haunt as an idyllic memory, albeit with a photographically sharp focus. It is flawlessly constructed and crisply executed to recall the brightly sunlit scene. Although the artists’ camp is long gone, Roberts’ view of the headland is still recognisable today, close to the present site of Taronga Park Zoo on the Sydney Harbour foreshore.
oil on canvas on paperboard
25.4 x 34.6 cm board; 24.7 x 33.2 cm sight edge; 44.5 x 53.0 x 5.3 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed l.l., red oil "Tom Roberts/ '(illeg)".
Where the work was made
Shown in 7 exhibitions
Tom Roberts - Retrospective Exhibition:
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Nov 1947–Jan 1948
- Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide Nov 1947–Jan 1948
- National Gallery of Victoria [Swanston Street], Melbourne Nov 1947–Jan 1948
Sydney Harbour: an exhibition to mark the 175th anniversary of the founding of Australia (1963), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Oct 1963–19 Nov 1963
L'Été australien à Montpellier, Musee Fabre, France, 30 Jun 1990–13 Sep 1990
Bohemians in the bush: the artists' camps of Mosman, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Jun 1991–25 Aug 1991
Tom Roberts (1996-1997):
- Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide 05 Oct 1996–17 Nov 1996
- Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart 30 Nov 1996–27 Jan 1997
- National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne 12 Feb 1997–06 Apr 1997
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 19 Apr 1997–01 Jun 1997
- Art Gallery of Western Australia, Australia 11 Jun 1997–27 Jul 1997
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
Plein-air painting in Europe 1780-1850, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Sep 2004–31 Oct 2004
Referenced in 19 publications
Leigh Astbury, Tom Roberts, 'Masculinity and Modernism', pg. 124, Adelaide, 1996, 146, 147 (colour illus.), 211 (illus.).
Susan Bruce, A treasury of Australian bush painting, 'A Farewell to the Days of the Pioneers', pg. 46-54, Adelaide, 1979, 44 (illus.). plate no. 34
Mary Eagle, Australian Impressionism, 'Streeton in the City of Laughing Loveliness', pg. 201-208, Melbourne, 2007, 201, 209 (colour illus.). Fig.no. 1
Don Featherstone (Director) and David Woodgate (Producer), The beach, Australia, 2000, 00:18.11 for 30 seconds (colour, detail).
Ann Galbally, Arthur Streeton, 'Sydney: 1890-1897', pg. 20-31, Melbourne, 1969, 22 (illus.). illus.no. 9; incorrectly dated 1894.
Inverell Art Gallery, Tom Roberts Art Exhibition. Tom Roberts Festival 2001, Inverell, 2001, 10.
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 124 (colour illus.).
Pat Kreuiter, Look, 'Learning to look at art: Introducing and inspiring art lovers of the future', pg. 12-13, Sydney, Oct 2008, 12 (colour illus.). A group of school children are pictured in front of the painting.
Patrick H McCarthy, Bailed up: the story behind the painting, Sydney, 2006, 14-15.
National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Tom Roberts exhibition, National Art Gallery of NSW: souvenir catalogue, Sydney, 1947, 10. cat.no. 7
Jennifer Slatyer, Imant Tillers: one world many visions, ‘Biographical notes’, pg. 95-108, Canberra, 2006, 95.
William Splatt and Susan Bruce, 100 masterpieces of Australian landscape painting, Melbourne, 1986, 132, 133 (colour illus.). plate no. 63
Daniel Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Tom Roberts', pg. 466-487, Sydney, Jul 1969, 471 (illus.).
Daniel Thomas., Sydney Harbour, ‘Introduction', Sydney, 1963. cat.no. 24; incorrectly dated 1893; not paginated
Albie Thoms, Bohemians in the bush: the artists' camps of Mosman, 'The Curlew Camp', pg. 49-69, Sydney, 1991, cover (colour illus.), flyleaf (colour illus.), 59, 79. cat.no. 68
Helen Topliss, Tom Roberts 1856-1931: a catalogue raisonné. Volume 2 - Plates, Melbourne, 1985. plate no. 31; not paginated
Helen Topliss, The artist's camp; plein air painting in Melbourne 1885-1898, 'The Artist's Camps', pg. 65-143, Melbourne, 1984, 137 (colour illus.). plate no. 179
Helen Topliss, Tom Roberts 1856-1931: a catalogue raisonné. Volume 1 - Text, Melbourne, 1985, 157. cat.no. 311
Vivienne Webb, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Golden Age', pg. 37-72, Sydney, 2000, 38.