Tom Roberts  Shearing The Rams

The Heidelberg School - An Icon of Australian Art






Shining a light on some of Australia's most iconic artists from the The Heidelberg School in our spring campaign brings together our key values of experience, knowledge and history. 

The Heidelberg School produced some of Australia’s most significant and popular paintings, capturing the true-to-life Australian bush scenes.

It was during the 1880s that these artists – principally Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Walter Withers and Charles Conder – established painting camps on what were then the outskirts of Melbourne.

This much-loved group of Australian artists has been referred to as the Heidelberg School, after the site of one of their painting camps at Eaglemont, near Heidelberg. Streeton painted Golden Summer, Eaglemont while living in a basic cottage in Summit Drive, Eaglemont on what was then known as the Mount Eagle Estate.

How is the Heidelberg School significant?

The Heidelberg School is considered significant not only because it was the first art movement in Australia, but because it produced some of the most iconic images in Australian culture. The name was attributed to the this artistic movement by a Sydney art critic Sidney Dickinson when he reviewed an exhibition of work by Arthur Streeton and Walter Withers, noting that most of the works had been painted in the Heidelberg area.

Painting en plein air

The Heidelberg school artists differentiated themselves from previous Australian artists by choosing to paint en plein air – in the open air instead of in studios. They sought to create a true and instant impression of the Australian bush by sketching quickly, then applying paint rapidly. This technique – known as impressionism, led to a new representation of the Australian landscapes, which had previously been portrayed as very “colonial” and not truly representative of the harsher conditions and unique light of the Australian bush.

Their first exhibition

The artists’ work was first exhibited and acclaimed at the groundbreaking 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition, held in Melbourne in August 1889. Various works travelled as far afield as London and Paris. Arthur Streeton was knighted for his services to the arts and Tom Roberts 1890 painting Shearing the rams is probably one of the most instantly recognised in Australia.

The legacy left by these artists is celebrated in Heidelberg School Artists Trail. The trail comprises a series of 12 colour signs featuring paintings from six artists of The Heidelberg School. The signs have been erected along the picturesque Yarra River and allow visitors to experience how artists of the era interpreted the landscape.

The Miles Real Estate team encourages residents near and far to pack a picnic, round up the kids and take your mind back to this rich artistic period by walking, driving or cycling along this historic trail.

Your Neighbourhood Guide Since 1924

Hero Image: Shearing the rams (1890) by Tom Roberts


Local Art

The Heidelberg School

Arthur Streeton

Spring Campaign

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