Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Australian art

View More:


The Golden Fleece



Tom Roberts

England, Australia

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.


From the Gallery Shop


Other Titles

Shearing at Newstead (The Golden Fleece)

Golden Fleece (Shearing at Newstead)

Shearing at Newstead

The Golden Fleece: shearing at Newstead

Place where the work was made

Inverell New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

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".


Purchased 1894

Accession number


Artist information

Tom Roberts

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 14 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 92 publications


Patsy Adam-Smith, The shearers, Melbourne, 1982, cover (colour illus.).

Jenny Aland and Max Darby (Editors), Art Connections, 'An example of writing using the social and cultural analysis plan', pg. 50-52, Port Melbourne, 1998, 49 (colour illus.).

Art Gallery of New South Wales, 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.).

Leigh Astbury, City bushmen: the Heidelberg school and the rural mythology, Melbourne, 1985, 122, 124-125. plate no. 20

Australian Exhibition Commission, Catalogue: British Empire Exhibition (Wembley) 1924, 1924, 97. titled 'The Golden Fleece'.

Australian Gallery Directors Council, Old master paintings from the USSR: A survey of four centuries of European art. Report, Sydney, 1979. 56

Garry Bell and John McConnell, Economic Activity: Issues and Economies, South Yarra, 1996, 273.

Sigurd Bergmann, 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.). 10.15

Tim Bonyhady, Images in opposition: Australian landscape painting 1801–1890, 'Contrasting lights', pg. 135-154, Melbourne, 1985, 150.

Rex Butler (Editor), 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. 19

Robert Campbell, Paintings of Tom Roberts, Adelaide, 1962, 5.

Edmund Capon AM, OBE, 10 Masterpieces of Australian Painting, Sydney, 1993, (colour illus.).

Edmund Capon AM, OBE and Jan Meek (Editors), Portrait of a Gallery, 'Australian Art in the Old Courts', pg. 24-37, Sydney, 1984, 34, 36 (colour illus.).

Aedeen Cremin (Editor), 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.).

Robert Croll, 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.).

Philip Drew, Veranda: Embracing Place, Pymble, 1992, 151-2 (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, 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. 11; titled 'The Golden Fleece: shearing at Newstead'

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.

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

George Galway, 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. 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'.

Lianne Hall (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'.

David Hansen, Australian Impressionism, 'National Naturalism', pg. 281-287, Melbourne, 2007, 286-287, 345, 293 (colour illus.). 15.6

Janet Hawley, Good Weekend, 'Tom Roberts Bailed Up', pg. 32-39, Sydney, 24 Feb 1996, 33, 36 (colour illus.), 37, 39.

Stuart Hill and Martin Mulligan, 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.

Ann Hodgens (Editor), Tom Roberts Festival 2006: Heritage tour, Inverell, 2006, 3, 21, 30, 31 (illus.).

Ann Hodgens, 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.).

Robert Hughes, The art of Australia, Melbourne, 1970, 57.

Inverell Art Gallery, Tom Roberts Art Exhibition. Tom Roberts Festival 2001, Inverell, 2001, 11.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 118 (colour illus.).

Bruce James., The Australian, 'Review of Books', Sydney, 11 Dec 1996, 14-15.

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.

Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. titled 'The golden fleece (Shearing at Newstead, N.S.W.)'; 4

Alan McCulloch, Encyclopedia of Australian Art (Vol.1, A-K), Hawthorn East, 1984, 604-605.

Alan McCulloch, The golden age of Australian painting - Impressionism and the Heidelberg school, Melbourne, 1969, 62 (colour illus.).

Ewen McDonald, AGNSW Collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 8, 16 (colour illus.).

John McDonald, 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.).

Humphrey McQueen, 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.

Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. 61

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1899, Sydney, 1899, 45 (sepia illus.). titled 'The Golden Fleece'; 246

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1893, Sydney, 1893. titled 'The Golden Fleece - Shearing at Newstead'; 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 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.). 4

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 18 (illus.).

Barry Pearce, Southern reflections: 10 contemporary Australian artists, 'An Introduction to Australian Art', pg. 34-42, Sydney, 1998, 36 (colour illus.). 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.

Ursula Prunster, 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.

Wendy Richardson, Work through the eyes of artists., England, 1993, 36 (illus.).

Zoë Ross (Editor), Eyewitness travel guides: Australia, 'Botanic gardens and the domain', pg. 100-111, London, 1998, 107 (colour illus.).

Royal Art Society of New South Wales, Art Society of New South Wales Fifteenth Annual Exhibition Catalogue, 1894, 30 (illus., detail). titled 'Shearing at Newstead'; 300; priced £275.0.0

Maggy Saldais, Society and environment for Western Australia 2, 'Australian perspective', pg. 36-39, Milton, 2005, 36 (colour illus.).

Malcolm Schmidtke (Editor), The Australian, Sydney, 28 Sep 1996, 24, 26-27.

Val Sharp, 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.

Shirley Sherwood (Editor), Australia Explored by the Great South Pacific Express, 'Arts of Australia', pg. 32-35, Australia, 1998, 34 (colour illus.).

Bernard William Smith, 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).

Terry Smith, 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. 3.12

Virginia Spate, Tom Roberts, Melbourne, 1978, 70, 81 (colour illus.), 92-94, 149. plate no. 25

William Splatt and Susan Bruce, Australian impressionist painters: a pictorial history of the Heidelberg school, Windsor, 1981, 88. plate no. 57

William Splatt and Barbara Burton, 100 masterpieces of Australian painting, Adelaide, 1973, 74, 75 (colour illus.). plate no. 34

AG Stephens, The Bookfellow: a monthly magazinelet for book-buyers and book-readers [no. 4], Sydney, 29 Apr 1899, 28.

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.

Helen Topliss, Tom Roberts 1856-1931: a catalogue raisonné. Volume 1 - Text, Melbourne, 1985, cover (colour illus.), 130-31. titled 'Shearing at Newstead'; 216

Helen Topliss, 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

Kenneth Wilkinson (Editor), Art in Australia [series 3, no. 70], Sydney, Mar 1938, 40 (illus.).

Denis Young, SOSE alive 3, 'Australian perspectives', pg. 84-87, Milton, 2004, 84 (colour illus.).

Editor Unknown (Editor), Australian artist, 'Australian Icons at the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 4-5, Chatswood, Aug 2000, 5 (colour illus.).

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Art Society's exhibition', pg. 3, Sydney, 28 Sep 1894, 3. titled 'Shearing at Newstead'

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.

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.

National Art Gallery of NSW: illustrated catalogue, Sydney, 1906, (illus.).

Editor Unknown (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterley, Sydney, Jul 1969, 472-73 (illus.).

Editor Unknown (Editor), Parade, 'Tom Roberts: father of Australian landscape painting', pg. 25-27, Sydney, Apr 1973, 25, 26, 27.

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

Editor Unknown (Editor), Daily Mirror, 'Artist gave life to spirit of Australian bush', pg. 24, Sydney, 20 Jul 1978, 24.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Corowa Free Press, 'Old painting found at Corowa', Corowa, 02 Apr 1963. Author and page unknown.

Author Unknown, Tom Roberts, Sydney, 1996, back (colour illus.).