by Christopher Riopelle
Australia's unique take on Impressionism is here represented by four major artists: Tom Roberts, Charles Conder, Arthur Streeton, and John Peter Russell. The first three were leading players of what became known as the Heidelberg School, which hit its stride around 1888, a time of a growing movement towards a federalisation of the colonies, and a sense of what it meant to be Australian', as the Australian-born population started to outnumber migrants.
With this more acutely felt sense of identity came a desire to capture more faithfully the Australian landscape, in particular the unique light. The landmark "9 by 5 Impression Exhibition of 1889," served to introduce Melbourne society to Impressionism' through around 180 impressions' or oil sketches, many of them painted on panels from cigar boxes of about 9 x 5 inches.