“Miss Minna Simpson” by Tom Roberts
“Miss Minna Simpson” by Tom Roberts depicts the five-year-old niece of Tom Roberts’s future wife. The rosy-cheeked face looks directly at the viewer as she firmly holds her cat. There is a confident contrast between the child’s relaxed face and the cat’s scowling face and paws reaching for the bowl of milk.
Roberts’ tonal palette with the dark background sets off the white apron, bonnet and lace, pays homage to the much-admired international artists Manet, Whistler and to Velásquez.
Thomas William “Tom” Roberts (1856 – 1931) was an English-born Australian artist. After attending art schools in Melbourne, he travelled to Europe in 1881 to further his training, and returned home in 1885, “primed with whatever was the latest in art”. He did much to promote “en plein air” painting and encouraged other artists to capture the national life of Australia.
Tom Roberts was a member of the famous ‘Heidelberg School’ of Australian artists of the late 1800s and early 2000s. These painters introduced an Australian style of depicting the bush, using impressionist principles to capture the light, colour and atmosphere of the Australian bush landscape and sky. Other members of the ‘Heidelberg School’ included Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, Frederick Mc Cubbin, David Davies, Jane Sutherland, and Walter Withers. The school was closely tied to an emerging Australian nationalism, which saw the acceptance of Australian scenes and people as suitable subjects for art.
Miss Minna Simpson
- Title: Miss Minna Simpson
- Artist: Tom Roberts
- Year: 1886
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Dimensions: 59.5 (h) x 49.5 (w) cm
- Museum: National Gallery of Australia
- Name: Thomas William “Tom” Roberts
- Born: 1856 – Dorchester, Dorset, England
- Died: 1931 (aged 75) – Kallista, Victoria, Australia
- Major Paintings:
A Tour of the National Gallery of Australia
- “The Green Parasol” by E. Phillips Fox
- “Landscape, Antibes (The Bay of Nice)” by John Peter Russell
- “Bridge and Wattle at Warrandyte” by Penleigh Boyd
- “Child in The Bush” by Frederick McCubbin
- “Miss Minna Simpson” by Tom Roberts
- “From McMahon’s Point – fare one penny” by Arthur Streeton
- “The Spirit of the Drought” by Arthur Streeton
- “Hot Wind” by Charles Conder
- “Purrumbete from across the Lake” by Eugene von Guerard
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
– Australian Proverb
Photo Credits: 1) GM