274 Sheep Shearing. The iconic painting is based on a number of preliminary sketches Roberts completed on the spot at Brocklesby Station, Corowa, New South Wales, in the late spring of 1888. " Roberts wished to sell the painting to the National Gallery of Victoria, however this was opposed by key people at the gallery, including director George Folingsby and one of the trustees. 13.
National Gallery of Victoria, MelbourneFelton Bequest, 1932 Even the slightly diagonal organisation of space is comparable, in particular Ashton’s illustration also shows to one side a shearer, who A further source which may have influenced Roberts’s the emphasis on the floorboards which guide the movement of the eye into the picture. Meanjin, vol.
Tom Roberts’s large canvas, Shearing the rams (fig. may have been aware of shearing scenes which appeared in contemporary photographs. 2).  Art historian Terry Smith's suggestion that Roberts presented a deliberately historical vision of shearing has been questioned on account of there being no evidence that electric shears had been introduced to Brocklesby at the time of the painting's composition.  The cinematography of the Australian New Wave film Sunday Too Far Away (1975), set on an outback sheep station, was heavily influenced by Shearing the Rams, among other Australian paintings. 1) is popularly seen today as an archetypal vision of Australian pastoral life.
), The Picturesque Atlas of Australasia, Sydney, 1886, vol.
It may be significant that Roberts conceived and painted his shearing subject just as the newly formed, militant Amalgamated Shearers’ Union reached the height of its power and influence.15 The A.S.U. Roberts’s deliberate reference to Courbet’s painting is perhaps best interpreted as a positive counter-assertion of the democratic values of Australian society. Croll, op. , It has been suggested that George Washington Lambert's 1921 work Weighing the fleece was conceived as a riposte to Shearing the Rams with Jim Davidson stating that "Certainly it could not be more different in spirit: instead of the celebration of strong masculine labour, [Weighing the fleece] endorses wealth and the social order. However, the frame does not appear in Thallon’s ledger (1888–1903). 3), by a well-known Melbourne photographer, Charles Nettleton,7 For Nettleton, see Cato, op.
, In its 1890 review of the painting, The Argus wrote that the shearers, "native and to the manner born", present "the physical characteristics of Young Australia".  In the 19th century, wool was a major source of wealth for the colonies, and by the 1870s, Australia had become the world's largest wool producer.
What immediately impresses is the work's evident vivid realism, the snapshot, photographic composition. Melbourne, 1978, p. 55 Roberts appears to have turned to another drawing by Hatherell in the same Cassell’s volume (opposite p. 220) for the motif of horse and rider in The Breakaway. 31–33, and entry under Nettleton by Jean Gittins in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, ed. 9–13. However, the painting would eventually be considered as "the definitive image of an emerging national identity. The frame is made from four sections of red pine. By isolating a single person in this manner, Ashton was able to suggest a certain figure type or character who embodied the ‘typical’ shearer, his finest qualities and virtues. In both pose and theme, the old scrub cutter recalls the older figure in Courbet’s painting. cit., pp. In 1885 he met Archibald on the S.S. 1 This letter and that quoted in the next paragraph are reprinted in R. H. Croll. Distinctly Australian in character, the painting is a celebration of pastoral life and work, especially "strong, masculine labour", and recognises the role that the wool industry played in the development of the country.
A blowout preventer (BOP) (pronounced B-O-P, not "bop") is a specialized valve or similar mechanical device, used to seal, control and monitor oil and gas wells to prevent blowouts, the uncontrolled release of crude oil or natural gas from a well.They are usually installed in stacks of other valves. , The painting was rehung in a new, wider frame in 2002; according to the NGV conservators this was in line with Roberts' original frame, which had been trimmed down over the years as framing fashion changed. The latter reference is quoted by Spate, op cit., p. 86; Roberts’s practice in finishing the picture in his Melbourne studio is not incompatible with the actual working methods of Lepage. , John Thallon, a Melbourne frame-maker, provided the frame for many of Roberts' paintings, including this one. 31–33, and entry under Nettleton by Jean Gittins in the, For example, the illustration ‘Sheepshearing’ on p. 473 of David Blair’s, He contributed work at an exhibition of paintings and drawings for. It was for this publication that his acquaintance, George Rossi Ashton,10 Andrew Garran (ed. 8 For example, the illustration ‘Sheepshearing’ on p. 473 of David Blair’s The History of Australasia, Melbourne, 1879, is copied from a well-known contemporary photograph, ‘Shearing’, by J. W. Lindt.
cit., p. 85, and p. 140, f.n. This figure is foreshadowed in Roberts’s initial sketch, but in the painting we find an even stronger resemblance to Ashton’s portrayal of the motif.  With like-minded artists, he helped to form the "Heidelberg School" movement, a group of Melbourne-based impressionists who depicted rural life and the bush, with nationalist and regionalist overtones. , In a seeming anachronism, the painting shows sheep being shorn with blade shears rather than the machine shears which started to enter Australian shearing sheds in the late 1880s. 2. p. 129; Courbet probably derived the figure from Millet’s The Winnower of 1848; cf. Nyoongar artist Dianne Jones made an Indigenous claim for inclusion by inserting her father and cousin into the iconic painting. p. 83. Meanjin, vol. With his considerable capacity for self-advertisement, Roberts did much to foster this notion. 31–33, and entry under Nettleton by Jean Gittins in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, ed. The operating pressure required to shear pipe is 3,000 psi and the maximum size of pipe that can be sheared is 5 V2" OD. What makes Roberts’s treatment of the shearing theme unique is his conscious attempt to achieve the heroisation of pastoral labour and his rendering of the light and atmosphere in the shearing shed. Equally significant is the way the photograph conveys the quality and sources of light in the shed: the light filters through from outside and permeates the atmosphere. Virginia Spate, Tom Roberts, Melbourne, 1972, p. 85, and p. 140, f.n. cit., pp.  The model for the smiling tar-boy at the centre of the picture, the only figure to make eye contact with the viewer, was actually a girl, 9-year-old Susan Bourne, who lived until 1979. 31–33, and entry under Nettleton by Jean Gittins in the, 8 For example, the illustration ‘Sheepshearing’ on p. 473 of David Blair’s, 9 He contributed work at an exhibition of paintings and drawings for. Courbet’s painting projects an uncompromising image of the stonebreaker’s cruel, back-breaking existence. Australia 3004, For a complete list of terms and condition of use see the National Gallery of Victoria’s copyright policy.  The NGV finally acquired the painting in 1932—one year after Roberts' death—using funds from the Felton Bequest. 9–13. Douglas Pike, M.U.P., 1974, vol. XIII, 1889–90, esp. A reproduction of the frame was made in 2002, by Mathew Adams and Louise Poon, from western red cedar and gilded with 23.5k gold leaf. Melbourne, 1978, p. 55 Roberts appears to have turned to another drawing by Hatherell in the same Cassell’s volume (opposite p. 220) for the motif of horse and rider in The Breakaway.  A re-enactment of the scene from the painting took place at North Tuppal station near Tocumwal, New South Wales in June 2010. 9–13. , The impact of Shearing of Rams can also be seen in Australian cinema. 6 R. H. Croll, op cit., pp. Exhibition Catalogue May 1888, no 25. 88–89. 15 The A.S.U. The National Gallery of Victoria acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Melbourne. cit., pp. 1 This letter and that quoted in the next paragraph are reprinted in R. H. Croll, Tom Roberts, Father of Australian Landscape Painting, Melbourne, 1935, pp. A talented artist, Roberts attended classes at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School before returning to England in 1881 when he was selected to study at the Royal Academy of Arts. The treatment of shearing scenes in black-and-white illustration during the period formed a parallel with that of photography; in fact, in some cases, illustrators simply copied existing photographs.8 For example, the illustration ‘Sheepshearing’ on p. 473 of David Blair’s The History of Australasia, Melbourne, 1879, is copied from a well-known contemporary photograph, ‘Shearing’, by J. W. Lindt.
13. His political sympathy with the Labor movement was probably formed early in the 1880s when he began his friendship with the future Labor politician, Dr William Maloney, and also came into contact with J. F. Archibald of the radical Sydney Bulletin.16 Roberts toured Spain with Maloney in 1883; cf. They can be used as blind rams during normal operations. This letter and that quoted in the next paragraph are reprinted in R. H. Croll. 1, Frames Melbourne Journal of Technical Studies in Art, University of Melbourne Conservation Service, 1999, p. 83. Roberts finished Shearing the Rams in May 1890 and unveiled it at his studio at Grosvenor Chambers on Collins Street, Melbourne. 13 U Hoff. For commercial uses, please complete an online Reproduction Request Form. Technically Roberts’s painting owes more to the tight, tonal realism of Lepage than to Millet’s looser, more generalised style. " The photorealist painter Marcus Beilby won the 1987 Sir John Sulman Prize with a painting that also depicts shearers at work, this time in a modern shed using machine shears with overhead gear.
One of the best-known and most-loved paintings in Australia, Shearing the Rams has been described as a "masterpiece of Australian impressionism" and "the great icon of Australian popular art history". SHEAR BLIND RAMS. ‘Reflections on the Heidelberg School 1885–1900’. was formed in 1886 See W. G. Spence, 16 Roberts toured Spain with Maloney in 1883; cf. 4 J. S. McDonald, ‘The Art of the Late Tom Roberts’, Catalogue of the 1932 Tom Roberts’ Memorial Exhibition, p. 5; R. H. Croll, op. was formed in 1886 See W. G. Spence, Australia’s Awakening, Sydney, 1909. Tom Roberts’s Shearing the rams is a response to the nationalistic sentiment that developed in Australia during the late nineteenth century. Shearing the rams 1890 Brown’s picture, which explores a moral theme of the place of labour in contemporary society and the significance of different types of work, may have influenced Roberts’s conception of his subject.17 Cf. 5 The Argus, 31 May 1890, and The Age, 30 May 1890. oil on canvas on composition board A photograph entitled ‘Shearing’ (fig. Technically Roberts’s painting owes more to the tight, tonal realism of Lepage than to Millet’s looser, more generalised style. The trio travelled Europe together in the mid-1880s, and when Maloney returned to Melbourne in 1888, Russell instructed him to show the portrait to Roberts. The frame, in complete form, appears in a photograph from the Fine Arts Society’s Melbourne exhibition of 1932; this image was brought to my attention by Terence Lane. anticipates the construction of pictorial space found in Shearing the rams. 2. p. 129; Courbet probably derived the figure from Millet’s The Winnower of 1848; cf.