Tom Roberts, Australian Impressionist
It was a treat to revisit this painting again. I like it more each time I see it. Tom Roberts was born in Dorchester, Dorset, and arrived in Australia in his mid-teens. He became a photographer and encouraged to paint plein-air by Louis Buvelot then an artist. He saw Impressionist and naturalist painting during a trip to Europe in the early 1880s.
In 1868 a Cobb & Co coach was held up near Inverell, northern NSW by Captain Moonlight, at Newstead sheep station, owned by his friend Duncan Anderson (and now by his descendent John Anderson, a recent deputy PM). The men in the painting were mostly shearers who acted out the event. Tom painted the reconstruction from up in a tree. It’s a hot summer, the landscape is beautifully depicted and the action is beautifully staged, peaceful, and yet with activity and guns drawn.