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Australian art

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(circa 1893)


Tom Roberts

England, Australia

08 Mar 1856 - 14 Sep 1931


'Adagio' reflects Roberts' great love of music during the 1890s, when he attended regular musical soireés and counted musicians amongst his friends and portrait subjects. Representing a brief divergence from his generally realist approach, it shows the influence of the European Symbolists who were inspired by the idea of a relationship between musical and pictorial expression. Like them, Roberts aimed to encourage contemplation: evoking ideas and feelings which could not be expressed through a more literal transcription of reality.


Other Titles

Girl with Violin


Place where the work was made



(circa 1893)

Media category


Materials used

oil on paperboard


25.4 x 50.6 cm board; 24.0 x 49.4 cm sight edge; 44.4 x 69.8 x 3.6 cm frame

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1947


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Tom Roberts

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 10 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 15 publications


John Buckley (Curator), Nocturne: images of night and darkness from colonial to contemporary, Mornington, 2002, 10, 11 (colour illus.), 28. no catalogue numbers

Jane Clark, Golden summers: Heidelberg and beyond, 'Sydney Harbour', pg. 150-152, Melbourne, 1985, 167 (colour illus.), 168.

Anne Gray, Tom Roberts, 'Harmonic arrangements: Tom Roberts' painting' Anne Gray, pg. 31-60, Canberra, 2015, 47, 204, 205 (colour illus.), 349. 66

Inverell Art Gallery, Tom Roberts Art Exhibition. Tom Roberts Festival 2001, Inverell, 2001, 2. 1

James R. Lawson Pty Ltd, Catalogue of a most important collection of valuable works of art, Sydney, 1947, 33. 412

Susan McCulloch-Uelin, The Weekend Australian, 'Lunar dreaming', pg. R16-R17., Sydney, 20 Apr 2002-21 Apr 2002, R17 (illus.).

Humphrey McQueen, Tom Roberts, 'The fortunes of Tom Roberts', pg. 20, Adelaide, 1996, 32, 33 (colour illus.).

Denise Mimmocchi, Australian Symbolism: the art of dreams, ‘Dreams of the bohemian idyll: Charles Conder and his impact’, pg. 90-110, Sydney, 2012, 105, 108 (colour illus.), 147.

Society of Artists, Society of Artists Spring Exhibition, 'Oil section', pg. 5-16, Sydney, 1899, 6. 69

Virginia Spate, Tom Roberts, 'Roberts' figure-paintings', pg. 72-103, Melbourne, 1978, 73, 84 (colour illus.), 97-99, 101, 103. plate no. 28

Daniel Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Tom Roberts', pg. 466-487, Sydney, Jul 1969, 478 (illus.).

Helen Topliss, Tom Roberts 1856-1931: a catalogue raisonné. Volume 1 - Text, Melbourne, 1985, 129, 130. 212

Helen Topliss, Tom Roberts 1856-1931: a catalogue raisonné. Volume 2 - Plates, Melbourne, 1985, (colour illus.). plate no. 96

Wayne Tunnicliffe and Deborah Edwards, Look, ‘New Australia’, pg. 24-27, Sydney, May 2012, 39 (colour illus.).

Editor Unknown (Editor), Exhibition and sale of paintings by Tom Roberts, previous to his leaving Australia., Sydney, Nov 1900. titled 'Girl with Violin'; 5; priced 5 guineas