The Golden Fleece
08 Mar 1856 - 14 Sep 1931
Tom Roberts painted 'The Golden Fleece' while staying at Newstead Station in the New England tablelands of northern NSW. It is part of a series in which Roberts payed homage to rural life and pastoral industry, and captured vanishing traditions such as the use of manual shears.
Originally called 'Shearing at Newstead', this painting was renamed to reference the Greek myth in which the Argonauts voyage to the end of the world in search of the Golden Fleece. The title reflects Roberts' creation of the rural worker as 'hero', and his evocation of Australia as an Arcadian land of pastoral plenty.
The work's frame is attributed to John Thallon, the famous 19th-century Melbourne carver and gilder, and was restored in 2010.
Shearing at Newstead (The Golden Fleece)
Golden Fleece (Shearing at Newstead)
Shearing at Newstead
The Golden Fleece: shearing at Newstead
oil on canvas
104.0 x 158.7 cm stretcher; 134.5 x 189.0 x 9.5 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed l.r. corner, red/brown oil "TOM ROBERTS.".
Dated l.l. corner, red/brown oil "... 94".
Where the work was made
Shown in 14 exhibitions
Fifteenth Annual Exhibition of the Art Society of New South Wales (1894), York Street Skating Rink, Sydney, Sep 1894 -
Exhibition of Australian art in London (1898), Grafton Galleries, London, 02 Apr 1898–31 Jul 1898
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 20 Feb 1915–04 Dec 1915
British Empire Exhibition (1924), Empire Stadium, Wembley, 23 Apr 1924–Oct 1925
A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Sep 1953–25 Oct 1953
European masters and Australian painting from Australian collections:
Two centuries of Australian painting, a selection from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Orange Regional Gallery, Orange, 19 Apr 1986–15 Jun 1986
Art Treasures of Olympic Cities, Lausanne Olympic Museum, 22 Jun 1993–03 Oct 1993
Wool in the Australian Imagination, Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney, 23 Nov 1994–01 May 1995
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, Perth 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
Living on the land: Works from the Howard Hinton Collection, New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale, 30 Apr 2004–30 May 2004
Australian Impressionism, Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne, 31 Mar 2007–08 Jul 2007
Tom Roberts Retrospective, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 04 Dec 2015–28 Mar 2016
Referenced in 92 publications
Art Connections, 'An example of writing using the social and cultural analysis plan', pg. 50-52, Port Melbourne, 1998, 49 (colour illus.).
A selection of eighty-two reproductions mainly from the Australian collection and including examples from the British, French and Dutch [Art Gallery of New South Wales], Sydney, 1959, (colour illus.). plate no. 7
Julian Ashton., Daily telegraph, ‘National Art Gallery: The Australian Court’, Sydney, 27 Sep 1905, unknown (illus.).
City bushmen: the Heidelberg school and the rural mythology, Melbourne, 1985, 122, 124-125. plate no. 20
Catalogue: British Empire Exhibition (Wembley) 1924, 1924, 97. titled 'The Golden Fleece'.
SÅ FRÄMMANDA DET LIKA: Samisk konst i ljuset av religion och globalisering, 'X Konst som kreativ dekolonialisering: fyra teman i den australiska diskursen', pg. 335-362, Norway, 2009, 355 (illus.). fig.no. 10.15
Images in opposition: Australian landscape painting 1801–1890, 'Contrasting lights', pg. 135-154, Melbourne, 1985, 150.
Radical revisionism: an anthology of writings on Australian art, 'Tom Roberts: "Where the sun never set"', pg. 163-174, Brisbane, 2005, 47 (colour illus.), 171, 172. fig.no. 19
Paintings of Tom Roberts, Adelaide, 1962, 5.
10 Masterpieces of Australian Painting, Sydney, 1993, (colour illus.).
Portrait of a Gallery, 'Australian Art in the Old Courts', pg. 24-37, Sydney, 1984, 34, 36 (colour illus.).
1901: Australian life at federation: an illustrated chronicle, 'Riding on the sheep's back: the wool industry', pg. 51-57, Sydney, 2001, 53 (colour illus.).
Tom Roberts: father of Australian landscape painting, Melbourne, 1935, 32.
Rob Ditessa', Artist's palette, 'Icons on show', pg. 54-59, Sydney, 2000, 57 (colour illus.).
John Dunn, Outback, 'Legends of the outback: Australian painters inspired by the bush', pg. 72-78, Neutral Bay, Jun 2004-Jul 2004, 75.
Deborah Edwards, Stampede of the Lower Gods: Classical Mythology in Australian Art, 'The Antipodean Arcady / 'When Pan purloined Apollo's lyre'', pg. 8-31, Sydney, Sep 1989, 31.
Deborah Edwards, Two centuries of Australian painting: a selection from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Introduction', pg. 8-14, Sydney, 1986, front cover (colour illus.), 9, 21. cat.no. 11; titled 'The Golden Fleece: shearing at Newstead'
Elizabeth Fortescue., Daily telegraph, 'Aussie icon back in the frame', Sydney, 21 Jul 2010, (colour illus.). Conservator Barbara Dabrowa pictured next to painting; page unknown
Fifty years of Australian art 1879-1929, New South Wales, 1929, 17 (colour illus.).
Anne Grey, Tom Roberts, 'Tom Roberts: La vita con brio', pg. 11-30, Canberra, 2015, 14, 16, 17, 26, 27, 31, 40, 41, 42, 56, 64, 208, 210 (colour illus.), 211, 215, 349. cat.no. 69
Ali Gripper., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Great art starts with the framework', Sydney, 04 Aug 2000, page unknown. Article about restoration of frames for the 'Australian Icons' exhibition and features a photograph of Installation Crew with 'Holiday in Essex'.
David Hansen, Australian Impressionism, 'National Naturalism', pg. 281-287, Melbourne, 2007, 286-287, 345, 293 (colour illus.). cat.no. 15.6
Janet Hawley, Good Weekend, 'Tom Roberts Bailed Up', pg. 32-39, Sydney, 24 Feb 1996, 33, 36 (colour illus.), 37, 39.
Ecological pioneers: a social history of Australian ecological thought and action, 'Seeing the land in a new light: people and landscapes in Australian art', pg. 34-71, Cambridge, 2001, 48.
The people in the paintings: a research report for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Inverell, 2006, 1, 2, 5-36, 6 (colour illus.).
Tom Roberts Festival 2006: Heritage tour, Inverell, 2006, 3, 21, 30, 31 (illus.).
The art of Australia, Melbourne, 1970, 57.
Tom Roberts Art Exhibition. Tom Roberts Festival 2001, Inverell, 2001, 11.
Bruce James., The Australian, 'Review of Books', Sydney, 11 Dec 1996, 14-15.
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 118 (colour illus.).
Nigel Lendon, Australian art and architecture: essays presented to Bernard Smith, 'Ashton, Roberts and Bayliss: some relationships between illustration, painting and photography in the late nineteenth century', pg. 71-82, Melbourne, 1980, 78, 79 (illus.), 82.
150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. titled 'The golden fleece (Shearing at Newstead, N.S.W.)'; cat.no. 4
The golden age of Australian painting - Impressionism and the Heidelberg school, Melbourne, 1969, 62 (colour illus.).
Encyclopedia of Australian Art (Vol.1, A-K), Hawthorn East, 1984, 604-605.
AGNSW Collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 8, 16 (colour illus.).
Art of Australia. Vol 1: Exploration to Federation, ‘Individual and national feeling’, pg. 545-610, Sydney, 2008, 580, 581 (colour illus.).
Ian McLean, White Aborigines, 'The Bad Conscience of Impression', pg. 52-73, London, 1998, 62, 63 (illus.).
John McPhee, Australian art collector, 'Eye for an eye: the art of appreciation', pg. 98-101, Sydney, Apr 2000-Jun 2000, 98 (colour illus.).
Tom Roberts, Sydney, 1996, 382-3, 388, 433-4.
Humphrey McQueen, Art Monthly Australia, 'Positions vacant', pg. 21-23, Canberra, Sep 2000, 21. Review of the 'Australian icons' exhibition.
Steve Meacham., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Shedding new light on a historic work of art', Sydney, 14 Mar 2009, (colour illus.). page unknown
Denise Mimmocchi, Australian Collection Focus: Sydney Long - Pan, 'Sydney Long: Pan', pg. 1-12, Sydney, 2009, 6, 7.
A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. cat.no. 61
Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1899, Sydney, 1899, 45 (sepia illus.). titled 'The Golden Fleece'; cat.no. 246
Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1893, Sydney, 1893. titled 'The Golden Fleece - Shearing at Newstead'; cat.no. 431
Geraldine O'Brien, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Shear genius: festival goes for gold', pg. 11, Sydney, 13 Apr 1996, 11 (illus.).
Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 18 (illus.).
Barry Pearce, Art treasures: candidate citites for the 2000 Olympic Games: Beijing, Berlin, Brasilia, Istanbul, Manchester, Sydney, 'The Golden Fleece - shearing at Newstead', pg. 166, Lausanne, 1993, 166, 167 (colour illus.). cat.no. 4
Barry Pearce, Southern reflections: 10 contemporary Australian artists, 'An Introduction to Australian Art', pg. 34-42, Sydney, 1998, 36 (colour illus.). fig.no. 5
Barry Pearce, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Introduction', pg. 10-16, Sydney, 2000, 13, 37-38, 60 (colour illus.), 302.
Barry Pearce, The Weekend Australian, 'Time makes its judgment', pg. 2-3, Sydney, 12 Aug 2000-13 Aug 2000, 2 (colour illus.). This colour supplement is a 'Review Special' published for the 'Weekend Australian'. It consists of a four-page, colour wrap-around for the 'Weekend Australian Review'. 'The Australian' was the media sponsor for the AGNSW Exhibition 'Australian Icons', for the Olympic Arts Festival 2000.
Jo Anne Pomfrett, Insites, 'Conservation: Newstead homestead', pg. 9, Glebe, Summer 2004, 9.
Aspects of Australian art, Sydney, 2000, (colour illus.). card no. 2: Tom Roberts 'The Golden Fleece' 1894
Ron Radford, Tom Roberts, ‘The Father of Australian Landscape Painting?’, pg. 10-19, Adelaide, 1996, 10, 82, 90, 96, 100, 104, 106, 112, 116, 120, 124, 138, 206.
Eyewitness travel guides: Australia, 'Botanic gardens and the domain', pg. 100-111, London, 1998, 107 (colour illus.).
Art Society of New South Wales Fifteenth Annual Exhibition Catalogue, 1894, 30 (illus., detail). titled 'Shearing at Newstead'; cat.no. 300; priced £275.0.0
Malcolm Schmidtke (Editor), The Australian, Sydney, 28 Sep 1996, 24, 26-27.
A catalogue of Australian oil paintings in the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1875-1952, Sydney, 1953, 175, 176. titled 'The Golden Fleece' (called 'Shearing at Newstead' in the Cat. of the Art Soc. of N.S.W. An. Ex. 1894).
Transformations in Australian art: The nineteenth century - landscape, colony and nation [Volume One], 'The divided meaning of 'Shearing the Rams': artists and nationalism, 1888-1895', pg. 66-106, St Leonards, 2002, 84, 87, 95, 97 (illus.), 98-99. fig.no. 3.12
Tom Roberts, Melbourne, 1978, 70, 81 (colour illus.), 92-94, 149. plate no. 25
Australian impressionist painters: a pictorial history of the Heidelberg school, Windsor, 1981, 88. plate no. 57
100 masterpieces of Australian painting, Adelaide, 1973, 74, 75 (colour illus.). plate no. 34
Andrew Stephenson, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Tom's people', pg. 3, Sydney, 09 Jan 2001, 3. pg. 3 of Summer Metropolitan section.
Annette Tapp, Federation: Australian art and society 1901-2001, 'Weighing the fleece', pg. 103, Canberra, 2000, 103.
Daniel Thomas, Wool in the Australian imagination, The Golden Fleece: wool in Australian art', pg. 60-71, Glebe, 1994, 66, 67 (colour illus.), 194.
Daniel Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Tom Roberts', pg. 466-487, Sydney, Jul 1969, 472 (illus.), 473.
Tom Roberts 1856-1931: a catalogue raisonné. Volume 1 - Text, Melbourne, 1985, cover (colour illus.), 130-31. titled 'Shearing at Newstead'; cat.no. 216
Tom Roberts 1856-1931: a catalogue raisonné. Volume 2 - Plates, Melbourne, 1985. plate no. 98
Helen Topliss, Seeing the first Australians, 'Tom Roberts' Aboriginal portraits', pg. 110-136, Sydney, 1985, 112, 113 (illus.), 124. plate no. 8.3
Art in Australia [series 3, no. 70], Sydney, Mar 1938, 40 (illus.).
Unknown (Editor), Heritage NSW, 'Conservation of a woolshed', pg. 14, Parramatta, Oct 1999, 14 (colour illus.). Special focus on rural heritage in NSW and the conservation of the Newstead North woolshed where Tom Roberts set 'The Golden Fleece'.
Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Australian art in London', pg. 7, Sydney, 12 May 1898, unknown. Review of Australian painting exhibition held at Grafton Gallery, London.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Art Society's exhibition', pg. 3, Sydney, 28 Sep 1894, 3. titled 'Shearing at Newstead'
Australian artist, 'Australian Icons at the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 4-5, Chatswood, Aug 2000, 5 (colour illus.).
Editor Unknown (Editor), Corowa Free Press, 'Old painting found at Corowa', Corowa, 02 Apr 1963. Author and page unknown.
Editor Unknown (Editor), Sydney mail, 'The founder of Impressionism in Australia', Sydney, 10 Jun 1926, (illus.). page unknown; see AGNSW Press Clippings Aug. 1925 - June 1927
Unknown, The families of William Henry Lowe and Keziah Lowe nee Mansfield of Inverell - Swanvale - Glen Innies: compiled by their grandchildren, 2003-2004, 1 (colour illus.). William Henry Lowe is the shearer standing third on the left in the painting 'The Golden Fleece'. This family history was compiled by his grandchildren, Val Sharp (Newcastle) and Doug Colley, 2003-2004.
Unknown, SOSE alive 3, 'Australian perspectives', pg. 84-87, Milton, 2004, 84 (colour illus.).
Unknown, Society and environment for Western Australia 2, 'Australian perspective', pg. 36-39, Milton, 2005, 36 (colour illus.).
Editor Unknown (Editor), Sotheby's Melbourne: Important Australian Art, 25 & 26 August 2008, Australia, 2008, 47, 48 (colour illus.). Related work 'Shearing shed, Newstead', lot no. 20.
Old master paintings from the USSR: A survey of four centuries of European art. Report, Sydney, 1979. cat.no. 56
Daily Mirror, 'Artist gave life to spirit of Australian bush', pg. 24, Sydney, 20 Jul 1978, 24.
Parade, 'Tom Roberts: father of Australian landscape painting', pg. 25-27, Sydney, Apr 1973, 25, 26, 27.
Unknown, The shearers, Melbourne, 1982, cover (colour illus.).
Editor Unknown (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterley, Sydney, Jul 1969, 472-73 (illus.).
Unknown, Veranda: Embracing Place, Pymble, 1992, 151-2 (colour illus.).
Unknown, Work through the eyes of artists., England, 1993, 36 (illus.).
Author Unknown, Tom Roberts, Sydney, 1996, back (colour illus.).
Unknown and Unknown, Economic Activity: Issues and Economies, South Yarra, 1996, 273.
National Art Gallery of NSW: illustrated catalogue, Sydney, 1906, (illus.).
Australia Explored by the Great South Pacific Express, 'Arts of Australia', pg. 32-35, Australia, 1998, 34 (colour illus.).
Unknown, The Bookfellow: a monthly magazinelet for book-buyers and book-readers [no. 4], Sydney, 29 Apr 1899, 28.