The paintings of the Australian Impressionists contributed to the construction of a national identity in the years leading to Australian Federation in 1901. Artists such as Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, and Charles Conder consciously sought out subject matter that was considered uniquely 'Australian' – in particular, the pastoral and bush landscapes of New South Wales and Victoria, and the resilient and hard-working pioneer settlers that inhabited them.
Yet Impressionism was a global movement, and the work of these artists was deeply beholden to European modernism. This lecture will examine the tensions between this emergent nationalism and a broader global consciousness.
Sarah Thomas is a lecturer in History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London, and at Kingston University. She has taught widely in Australia and the UK, and was Curator of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia until 2003. She has a particular interest in the art history and museology of the British Empire, and the role and particularities of itinerant artists in the colonial period.
Focus in on one painting with our talks in the Gallery, or explore wider themes in the collection at our in-depth theatre talks.