Painted in London where Roberts had settled in 1903 the stylish subject and relatively complex composition of this portrait reveal his ambition to attain the respected status of then fashionable portraitists such as Gainsborough and Wilson Steer. However the painting dates from a troubled period when Roberts met continued rejection by the Royal Academy. On the advice of young fellow Australian expatriate artist James Quinn, he reduced the range of colours in his palette to yellow ochre, light red, white and black, producing a number of fine works of similar low-key tonality and delicate sensitivity.
His paint-handling in this portrait, using thickly applied yet dry-looking pigment, was to form the basis of his approach to the works he produced following his return to Australia in 1923.
(circa 1910-circa 1912)
oil on canvas
76.1 x 63.3 cm board; 92.7 x 77.5 x 8.2 cm frame
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Not on display
Where the work was made
Shown in 5 exhibitions
110 Years of Australian Art, Blaxland Gallery, Sydney, Sep 1950 -
A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Sep 1953–25 Oct 1953
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
Tom Roberts Festival (2001), Inverell Art Gallery, Inverell, 27 Apr 2001–06 May 2001
Tom Roberts Festival - Portraiture (2006), Inverell Art Gallery, Inverell, 22 Apr 2006–05 May 2006
Referenced in 10 publications
Inverell Art Gallery, Tom Roberts Art Exhibition. Tom Roberts Festival 2001, Inverell, 2001, 3. cat.no. 6
Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. cat.no. 94
Virginia Spade, Tom Roberts, 'Where The Sun Never Set: Tom Roberts and the British Empire', pg. 62, Adelaide, 1996, 88, 90, 91 (colour illus.), 213 (illus.).
Virginia Spate, Tom Roberts, Melbourne, 1978, 124, 125 (illus.), 148. illus.no. 48
Virginia Spate, Tom Roberts, 'Part 3- Roberts' Work in England and Australia. 1903-1931', pg. 121-134, Melbourne, 1972, 124, 123 (colour illus.). illus.no. 48
Wendy Symonds (Editor), Look, Heidelberg, Apr 1997, 6 (illus.).
Daniel Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Tom Roberts', pg. 466-487, Sydney, Jul 1969, 480 (illus.), 481.
Helen Topliss, Tom Roberts 1856-1931: a catalogue raisonné. Volume 2 - Plates, Melbourne, 1985, (illus.). plate no. 186
Helen Topliss, Tom Roberts 1856-1931: a catalogue raisonné. Volume 1 - Text, Melbourne, 1985, 182. cat.no. 422
Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Gallery buys Roberts' works', pg. 4, Sydney, 23 Feb 1946, 4.