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Australia's Impressionists: In focus

  1. World Impressionism
  2. Urban Australia
  3. The 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition
  4. National landscape
  5. John Russell

Urban Australia

By the end of the 19th century Australian society was one of the world’s most urbanised. The majority inhabiting the various British colonies in Australia lived in cities such as Melbourne and Sydney. These were major ports, part of an international trade and communications network. Exports included the spoils of vast agricultural development, especially wool, while imports brought art journals from Europe and America, plugging Australian artists into international debates around modern painting.

Charles Conder, 'Departure of the Orient – Circular Quay’, 1888. Purchased 1888 © AGNSW

Charles Conder, 'Departure of the Orient – Circular Quay’, 1888. Purchased 1888
© AGNSW

In 1885, 'Marvellous Melbourne’, as it was known, was one of the richest cities in the world, and fast becoming the second largest in the British Empire. Melbourne was home to a lively art scene, but its more conservative critics were sceptical of the influence international ‘Impressionist’ trends were having on the young generation of local artists.

Tom Roberts, ‘Allegro con Brio, Bourke Street West’, about 1885-6, reworked 1890 Purchased 1920 by the Parliamentary Library Committee © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and the National Library of Australia, Canberra

Tom Roberts, ‘Allegro con Brio, Bourke Street West’, about 1885-6, reworked 1890 Purchased 1920 by the Parliamentary Library Committee © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and the National Library of Australia, Canberra

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