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Bailed Up

Tom Roberts - Bailed up - Google Art Project

“Bailed Up” by Tom Roberts

Bailed Up is a painting by Australian artist Tom Roberts. The painting depicts a distinctive Australian subject of a stage coach being held up by bushrangers in a forested section of an isolated road.

Tom Roberts painted this work in 1895 while staying at a sheep station near a small town, called Inverell, in northern New South Wales, Australia. It was at this sheep station that he also painted “The Golden Fleece” a famous painting depicting sheep shearing.


The notorious bushranger Captain Thunderbolt had been active near this sheep station at Inverell, more than twenty five years before this painting had been made, but it would have influenced Roberts and helped him conceived the idea of painting this subject.

This painting presents the story of Captain Thunderbolt (Frederick Ward) holding up the Inverell–Glen Innes mail coach. Beautifully depicting a crackling dry landscape in the heat and light of a high summer’s day in the Australian bush.

It took 33 years for this iconic painting to find a buyer and become a favourite with the public. In 1927, Roberts reworked this painting to simplify the work making it more abstract.


Tom Roberts was a member of the famous ‘Heidelberg School’ of Australian artists of the late 1800’s and early 2000’s.

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.

Tom Roberts

Tom Roberts was a leading figure in promoting open (in full) air painting and encouraged other Australian artists to capture the national life of Australia. While he is best known for his “national narratives”, among them Shearing the Rams (1890), A break away! (1891) and Bailed Up (1895).


Essential Facts:

  • Title:                       Bailed Up
  • Artist:                    Tom Roberts ( 1859 – 1931)
  • Year Painted:       1895
  • Reworked:             1927
  • Medium:                oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:         134.5 cm × 182.8 cm (53.0 in × 72.0 in)
  • Museums:              Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
  • Year Acquired:      1933


Essential Facts about Tom Roberts:

  • Name:                        Thomas William “Tom” Roberts
  • Born:                           8 March 1856 – Dorchester, Dorset, England
  • Died:                           14 September 1931 (aged 75) – Kallista, Victoria, Australia
  • Major Paintings:
    • The Artists Camp (1885)
    • Wood splitters (1886)
    • Bourke Street (1886)
    • Coming South (1886)
    • The Sunny South (1887)
    • Slumbering Sea, Mentone (1887)
    • Shearing the Rams (1890)
    • A break away! (1891)
    • The Golden Fleece (1894)
    • Shearing Shed, Newstead (1894)
    • In a corner on the Macintyre (1894)
    • Bailed Up (1895)
    • The Big Picture (1903)
    • Country Road Makers (1923)
    • Washing Day, Kallista (1923)
    • Sherbrooke Forest (1924)


“There is nothing more Australian than spending time in somebody else’s country.”  Australian Anon


Acknowledgement: This page is dedicated to Alison.

Photo Credit:1) 2) See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; 2) JC Merriman  3) JC Merriman –