Cover image of the review

Tom Roberts: Shearing the Rams

15 Sep 2018
18 Feb - 18 Feb 2020

I was recently showing a friend from New Zealand through the Australian collection at the National Gallery of Victoria and we came, of course, to Tom Roberts’ Shearing the Rams (1888-90). You have to get there eventually because everything in the collection and its arrangement on the walls points you that way. The work is visible — and intentionally so — as you step into the first of the rooms devoted to Australian art, past the depictions of Tasmanian Aboriginal people by Robert Dowling, through the room dedicated to early colonial landscape and into the room featuring a selection of work by Melbourne-based landscape artists from around the time of Roberts’ masterpiece.

There it is next to Jane Sutherland’s Numb Fingers Working (1886) to the left and Isaac Whitehead’s A Spring Morning near Fernshaw (1880) to the right. Behind you as you look is Ugo Catani’s Lover’s Walk, Mt Macedon (1890), and filling out the space and providing some sort of backstory are Frederick McCubbin’s Home Again (1884) and Roberts’ own Going South (1886).

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