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Tom Roberts (Hardcover) (Anna Gray)
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This publication accompanies the exhibition Tom Roberts at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and discusses Tom Roberts’s life and work and provides details on individual iconic works by Roberts from around Australia.
The essays explore, among other things, Roberts relations with other artists, in particular McCubbin and Streeton who had very different places in his life and art. They look at the seminal influence of Whistler, Manet, and Velasquez on his work – as well as artists such as Bastien Lepage and Courbet. They also look at his preference for pink tones in his early work and pastel blue and green in his later work.
The book features Roberts’s highly popular national narratives such as Shearing the Rams (1888–90), A Break Away! (1891), The Golden Fleece (1894), and Bailed Up (1895). It also includes eight of Roberts’s panel portraits, "Familiar Faces and Figures" from the late 1890s, and shows Roberts’s mastery of the art of pastel portraiture with a group of his pastels from this period. A group of twelve works from Roberts’s period in London 1903–1923, and a further twelve works produced after his return to Australia. It aims to show that these works are the product not of "a disappointed man" (as often previously argued), but of a new approach and a new aesthetic (emphasizing the point that Roberts continually changed his approach and his direction over his life, from earliest times to late). It notes that on his return to Australia, Roberts painted works of visual poetry, in response to his delight at being back home where, as he described it, "it had the sensation that as a child you thought it would be going to heaven."