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Australian art

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An autumn morning, Milson's Point, Sydney



Tom Roberts

England, Australia

08 Mar 1856 - 14 Sep 1931


Roberts painted 'An autumn morning, Milson's Point' during a visit to Sydney in early 1888. The painting depicts the northern shores of the harbour that were only accessible by ferry at this time. A contemporary reviewer attributed the murky colour of the air to the pollution as a result of burning coal. Later, Roberts himself lived and painted in this area whilst staying in Mosman at Curlew Camp, Sirius Cove, during the early 1890s.

Whilst in Sydney, Roberts met Charles Conder and the two became friends, painting together at Coogee beach. 'Holiday sketch at Coogee', by Roberts, is a celebration of the white sand and blue water of this popular promenade and bathing site, especially the intensity of Sydney sunlight. Roberts' time in Sydney proved extremely influential on the young artist, and Conder followed him to Melbourne later that year to join the group of artist friends at Heidelberg.


Place where the work was made

Milsons Point Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


45.7 x 76.2 cm stretcher; 65.3 x 96.0 x 5.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. corner, red/brown oil "Tom Roberts/ Sydney 88".


Purchased 1983

Accession number


Artist information

Tom Roberts

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made
Milsons Point

Shown in 10 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 31 publications


Leigh Astbury, Sunlight and shadow: Australian impressionist painters 1880-1900, Rushcutters Bay, 1989, 34.

Okko Boer, Masters of the Heidelberg School, Leichhardt, 1998, 10 (colour illus.). plate no. 6

Maurice Brodzky (Editor), Table talk, Melbourne, 27 Apr 1888, 2.

Rex Butler (Editor), Radical revisionism: an anthology of writings on Australian art, 'Tom Roberts: "Where the sun never set"', pg. 163-174, Brisbane, 2005, 168-169.

Edmund Capon AM, OBE and Jan Meek (Editors), Portrait of a Gallery, Sydney, 1984, frontispiece (colour illus.).

Jane Clark and Bridget Whitelaw, Golden summers: Heidelberg and beyond, Melbourne, 1985, 95 (colour illus.).

our Lady correspondent, The West Australian, 'Melbourne gossip.', pg. 3, Perth, 29 May 1888, 3.

Mary Eagle, Australian Impressionism, 'Friendly Rivalry: Paintings of Waterside Sydney, 1888 and 1890', pg. 103-108, Melbourne, 2007, 147, 106, 108, 322, 112 (colour illus.). 6.4

Anne Gray, Tom Roberts, 'Harmonic arrangements: Tom Roberts' painting' Anne Gray, pg. 31-60, Canberra, 2015, 42, 43, 160 (colour illus.), 161, 349. 34

David Iggulden, The house by the bay: a history of 'Berowra' A.D. 1888, London, 2001, 50-51 (colour illus.), 53-54. 9

Patrick H McCarthy, Bailed up: the story behind the painting, Sydney, 2006, 60.

John McDonald, Art of Australia. Vol 1: Exploration to Federation, ‘Our hill of gold’, pg. 419-484, Sydney, 2008, 446 (colour illus.), 447.

Humphrey McQueen, Tom Roberts, Sydney, 1996, 242.

Humphrey McQueen, Art Monthly Australia, 'Positions vacant', pg. 21-23, Canberra, Sep 2000, 21.

Bryce Moore, The Voyage out: sea travel to Australia, 1829-1921, Fremantle, 1991, 1 (colour illus.).

John Neylon, Jane Hylton and Tracey Lock-Weir, Tom Roberts: Education guide, Adelaide, 1996, colour illus..

Barry Pearce, A century of Australian landscape: mood and moment, Sydney, 1983, cover (colour illus.), 14, 33 (colour illus.). 16

Barry Pearce, Charles Conder 1868-1909, 'Between worlds: Conder in Australia', pg. 12-31, Sydney, 2003, 21.

Barry Pearce and Haruo Arikawa, Two hundred years of Australian painting: nature, people and art in the southern continent, Tokyo, 1992, 89 (colour illus.). 44

Charles Pickett, Observer & observed: a pictorial history of Sydney Observatory and Observatory Hill, 'Observer & observed: a pictorial history', pg. 8-94, Sydney, 2001, 54 (colour illus.), 55.

John Saxby (Editor), Look, 'The art that made me: Kevin Connor', pg. 12-13, Sydney, May 2016, 13 (colour illus.).

Sotheby's Australia, Catalogue of Australian and European paintings and Oriental ceramics and works of art, 'The property of a gentleman: An autumn morning, Milson's Point, Sydney', pg. 39, Melbourne, Mar 1983, 38 (colour illus.), 39. lot no. 54

Virginia Spate, Tom Roberts, 'Where The Sun Never Set. Tom Roberts and the British Empire', pg. 62, Adelaide, 1996, 74, 75 (colour illus.) 199 (illus.).

Jill Sykes, Look, ‘Barry Pearce’s next book-call it “segueing with intent”’, pg. 28-29, Sydney, Mar 2012, 28.

Nicola Teffer, Rosie Nice and Caroline Mackaness (Curators), Sydney by ferry, Sydney, 2002, 7.

Martin Terry, Maritime paintings of early Australia 1788-1900, 'The 1890s', pg. 90-104, Carlton South, 1998, 90-91 (colour illus.). plate no. 57

Helen Topliss, Tom Roberts 1856-1931: a catalogue raisonné. Volume 2 - Plates, Melbourne, 1985, 103 (colour illus.). plate no. 45

Vivienne Webb, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Golden age', pg. 37-38, Sydney, 2000, 58 (colour illus., detail), 59 (colour illus.), 302.

A.L. Windsor (Editor), Age, Melbourne, 20 Apr 1888, 6.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Argus, Melbourne, 30 Apr 1888, 11.

Author Unknown, Victorian Artists Society Catalogue of Autumn Exhibition 1888, Melbourne, May 1888, 14. 87