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Australian art

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Holiday sketch at Coogee



Tom Roberts

England, Australia

08 Mar 1856 - 14 Sep 1931


Tom Roberts met Charles Conder in Sydney in 1888, and the two painted together at Coogee beach. These painting expeditions proved influential on the younger Conder. Later that year he followed Roberts to Melbourne to join him and Arthur Streeton at their artists’ camp at Heidelberg.

While Conder painted Coogee Bay with an emphasis on the decorative qualities of colour and form, Roberts’ 'Holiday sketch at Coogee' suggests his primary concern for the landscape’s natural effects. It is an early testament to Roberts’ plein-air ‘impressionist’ technique, which evokes the sun’s glare on the bright blue sea, bleached white sand, dry grass and spindly seaside vegetation.


Other Titles

Coogee Bay


Place where the work was made

Coogee Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


40.3 x 55.9 cm stretcher; 56.8 x 72.0 x 5.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. corner, dark brown oil "...Tom Roberts -/ April 88".


Purchased 1954

Accession number


Artist information

Tom Roberts

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 18 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 65 publications


Anthony Horden & Son's (Compilator), Catalogue of an exhibition of the early work of Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and others, 'Foreword', page unknown, Sydney, Dec 1925. titled 'Coogee Bay; 16; priced 135 guineas; not paginated

Anthony Hordern & Sons, Ltd., Catalogue of an exhibition of the early work of Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and others (1925), Sydney, 1925, (illus.). titled 'Coogee Bay'; 16; priced 135 guineas

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 78 (colour illus.). titled 'Holiday sketch at Coogee'

Okko Boer, Masters of the Heidelberg School, 'Tom Roberts: Father of the Heidelberg School', pg. 5-21, Leichhardt, 1998, front cover (colour illus.), 13. plate no. 1

Tim Bonyhady, Australia's impressionists, 'The sunny south', pg. 19-30, London, 2016, 20, 46, 88 (colour illus.), 115, 124, 127. 24

Ian Burn, Australian art and architecture: essays presented to Bernard Smith, 'Beating about the bush: the landscapes of the Heidelberg School', pg. 83ff., Melbourne, 1980, 91, 92, 240.

Robert Campbell, Paintings of Tom Roberts, Adelaide, 1962, 18, 19 (colour illus.). NOTE: not paginated after page 12 and plate missing from AGNSW copy

Jane Clark and Bridget Whitelaw, Golden summers: Heidelberg and beyond, Melbourne, 1985, 96 (colour illus.).

Miriam Cosic, The Australian, 'Making a fresh impression', pg. 16, 30 Mar 2007, 16 (illus.).

the Daily Mirror Art Critic., Daily Mirror, 'High prices for art collection', Sydney, 16 Jun 1954, page unknown. NOTE: Article references the auction sale of the Australian section of the late Sir Marcus Clark's art collection at Lawson's on 15 June 1954.

Robert Croll, Tom Roberts: father of Australian landscape painting, Melbourne, 1935, 22. NOTE: Reference to painting; titled 'Coogee'; Collection of Mr. R. M. Clark

Robert Croll (Editor), Smike to bulldog: letters from Sir Arthur Streeton to Tom Roberts, Sydney, 1946, 9, 10.

Betty Currie, Girolamo Pieri Nerli (1863-1926), Melbourne, 1976, 17, 18, (illus.).

Mary Eagle, Australian Impressionism, 'Friendly Rivalry: Paintings of Waterside Sydney, 1888 and 1890', pg. 103-108, Melbourne, 2007, 79, 104-105, 323, 114 (colour illus.). 6.5

Don Featherstone (Director) and David Woodgate (Producer), The beach, Australia, 2000, 00:18.40 for 30 seconds (colour, details).

Ann Galbally, Charles Conder: the last bohemian, 'A child of Empire', pg. 5-28, Melbourne, 2002, 25.

Australian artists at Horderns' Gallery', The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Exhibition of early paintings, pg. 1, Sydney, 02 Dec 1925, 1 (illus.). Review of exhibition at Horderns' Gallery. Titled 'Coogee Bay'. See AGNSW Press Clippings Book August 1925-June 1927, pg. 166,167.

James Gleeson, Masterpieces of Australian painting, 'Tom Roberts', pg. 58-63, Melbourne, 1969, 60 (illus.). titled 'Holiday Sketch at Coogee'; plate no. 6; dated April 1888

Anne Gray, Tom Roberts, 'Harmonic arrangements: Tom Roberts' painting' Anne Gray, pg. 31-60, Canberra, 2015, 42, 162, 163 (colour illus.), 349. 35

Heather Gwilliam, Tom Roberts, 'The Golden Age', pg. 13-22, Cambridge, 1999, 14 (illus.).

Janet Hawley, Good Weekend, 'Tom Roberts Bailed Up', pg. 32-39, Sydney, 24 Feb 1996, 34 (colour illus.).

Dr Ursula Hoff, Charles Conder - his Australian years, Melbourne, 1960, 28 (illus.). plate no. 3

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 110 (colour illus.).

James R. Lawson Pty Ltd, Estate late Sir Reginald Marcus Clark, K.B.E.; Catalogue no. 1; Australian pictures- porcelains-ivories-miniatures-articles of vertu and furniture, Sydney, 1954. NOTE: Not included in catalogue.

Sandra Jane, Art is ... making, creating and appreciating 2, Milton, 1999, 219 (colour illus.).

Debra Jopson, Sun-Herald, 'Loo with a view makes a bad impression', pg. 4, Sydney, 26 Apr 2009, 4 (colour illus.).

Robyn Krause-Hale and Ruth Pullin, Conder & friends, 'New friends: Coogee', Melbourne, 2003, (colour illus.), (colour illus., detail).

J. S. MacDonald., A memorial exhibition of paintings by the late Tom Roberts (1932), 'Tom Roberts' place in Australian art', Melbourne, 1932. titled 'Coogee'; 9; not paginated

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

Alan McCulloch, The golden age of Australian painting - Impressionism and the Heidelberg school, Melbourne, 1969, 26 (colour illus.), 28. plate no. 13

John McDonald, Art of Australia. Vol 1: Exploration to Federation, ‘Our hill of gold’, pg. 419-484, Sydney, 2008, 442, 443 (colour illus.).

Nick Moncrieff-Hill, Southern Courier, ‘Call to push paintings, not pubs’, pg. 5, Sydney, 10 Nov 2009, 5 (colour illus.).

William Moore, Brisbane Courier, 'Art and artists.', pg. 18, Brisbane, 02 Apr 1932, 18.

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Tom Roberts exhibition, National Art Gallery of NSW: souvenir catalogue, Sydney, 1947, 10. 9

Barry Pearce, A century of Australian landscape: mood and moment, Sydney, 1983, 14, 32 (colour illus.). 15

Barry Pearce, Fifteen decades of Australian paintings, Sydney, 1981, (colour illus.). 6

Barry Pearce, Southern reflections: 10 contemporary Australian artists, 'An Introduction to Australian Art', pg. 34-42, Sydney, 1998, 37 (colour illus.). 6

Barry Pearce, Look: 1953-2003 celebrating 50 years, 'The enigmatic Charles Conder: spotlight on a lesser known Heidelberg painter', pg. 8-11, Sydney, May 2003, 9 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce and Haruo Arikawa, Two hundred years of Australian painting: nature, people and art in the southern continent, Tokyo, 1992, 90 (colour illus.). 45

Barry Pearce, Charles Conder 1868-1909, 'Between worlds: Conder in Australia', pg. 12-31, Sydney, 2003, 18, 19 (colour illus.).

Ron Radford, Humphrey McQueen, Mary Eagle, Virginia Spate, Daniel Thomas AM, Jane Hylton, Barry Pearce, Leigh Astbury, Helen Topliss, Roger Arthur Butler and Jane Hylton, Tom Roberts, Adelaide, 1996, 29 (colour illus.), 200 (illus.).

Ron Radford., Ladies in Landscapes, 'Ladies in landscapes', Ballarat, 1974, (illus.). titled 'Holiday sketch at Coogee'; 30; sepia toned reproduction

Lynne Seear, American Impressionism & Realism: A landmark exhibition from The Met, 'Continental drift: Stories from Australia about an American exhibition', pg. 51-61, Sydney, 2009, 55, 184 (colour illus., detail), 185, 188 (colour illus.), 189, 321, 331. 14A; Exhibition in the 'At Leisure Australia' section

Arnold Shore, Tom Roberts, Melbourne, 1964, 12, 28 (illus.).

Eileen Slarke, A century of Wylie's Baths Coogee: a cultural history, 'An inspirational site', pg. 5-6, Coogee, 2001, 5-6, 13 (colour illus.), 47.

Bernard William Smith, Australian painting, 1788-1990 with the three additional chapters on Australian painting since 1970, 'Chapter 4: Genesis 1885-1914', pg. 71-124, Melbourne, 1995, 75, 76 (illus.), 95. plate no. 53

Terry Smith, Transformations in Australian art: The nineteenth century - landscape, colony and nation [Volume One], 'Landscape with feeling: Golden summers and modern life', pg. 107-123, St Leonards, 2002, 117.

Virginia Spate, Tom Roberts, Melbourne, 1978, 48 (colour illus.), 50, 52-54, 148. plate no. 12

Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, 'Special spot saved', pg. 8, Sydney, Jul 2009, 8 (colour illus.).

Daniel Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Tom Roberts', pg. 466-487, Sydney, Jul 1969, 467 (illus.), 470. titled 'Holiday sketch at Coogee'

Helen Topliss, Tom Roberts 1856-1931: a catalogue raisonné. Volume 2 - Plates, Melbourne, 1985, (colour illus.). plate no. 46

Helen Topliss, Tom Roberts 1856-1931: a catalogue raisonné. Volume 1 - Text, Melbourne, 1985, 104. 104

Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales: Minutes 30.1.1953-27.8.1954, Sydney, 1953-1954, 4036. NOTE: Under the heading: 'Auction Sale - The late Sir Marcus Clark'.

Susan Venn, Roy and Matilda - The Golden Locket, Canterbury, 1994, (colour illus.).

Vivienne Webb, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Golden age', pg. 37-38, Sydney, 2000, 38, 57 (colour illus.), 302.

Patrick White, Patrick White's Choice, Sydney, Dec 1981, (illus.). 2; not paginated

Donald Williams, In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 2002, 48 (colour illus.).

Donald Williams, In our own image: the story of Australian art, 'The search for an Identity 1880-1901', pg. 53-61, Sydney, 1995, 57 (colour illus.).

Elizabeth Young, Australian painting: colonial, impressionist, contemporary, 'Impressionist', pg. 11-17, Adelaide, 1962, 40. 43

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, 'New painting for Gallery', Sydney, 06 Jul 1954, page unknown. Image of William Boustead, with scalpel in hand, restoring the painting upon its arrival at the Gallery in 1954.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Christie's Australia - Australian and European Paintings, South Yarra, Nov 1998, 58, 61 (colour illus.). NOTE: Related work was titled 'Coogee', lot 54

The Adelaide Festival of Arts 1962: Special exhibitions at the National Gallery of South Australia, 'Australian Painting: Colonial, Impressionist, Contemporary', Adelaide, 1962. titled 'Coogee Bay'; 54; not paginated

Australian Women's Weekly, 'Art for auction', author unknown, Sydney, 07 Jul 1954, page unknown. Article about Lawson's auction of Sir Marcus Clarke's art collection.

The Australian Art Exhibition (1932), Sydney, 1932. titled 'Coogee'; 66; on loan

Author Unknown, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1996.