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Australian art

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Grey lady (Mrs Ince)

(circa 1910-circa 1912)


Tom Roberts

England, Australia

08 Mar 1856 - 14 Sep 1931


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.


Place where the work was made

London England


(circa 1910-circa 1912)

Media category


Materials used

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.


Purchased 1946


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Tom Roberts

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 11 publications


Anne Gray, Tom Roberts, 'Harmonic arrangements: Tom Roberts' painting' Anne Gray, pg. 31-60, Canberra, 2015, 53, 284, 285 (colour illus.), 349. 113

Inverell Art Gallery, Tom Roberts Art Exhibition. Tom Roberts Festival 2001, Inverell, 2001, 3. 6

Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. 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, 'Part 3- Roberts' Work in England and Australia. 1903-1931', pg. 121-134, Melbourne, 1972, 124, 123 (colour illus.). 48

Virginia Spate, Tom Roberts, Melbourne, 1978, 124, 125 (illus.), 148. 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. 422

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Gallery buys Roberts' works', pg. 4, Sydney, 23 Feb 1946, 4.