Physical description

Image of a Charles Conder painting on front of soft covered book titled The Artists' Camps: Plein Air Painting In Melbourne 1885-1898.

Inscriptions & markings

FOREWORD by Margaret Plant - Department of Visual Arts, Monash University.
The paintings of the 'Heidelberg school" are the best loved group of works in Australian art. The affection is linked in the national mind with a recognition that the authentic Australian landscape had been discovered and colonial bonds broken.
The painting activity of the 1880s and 1890s was by no means confined to Heidelberg. Helen Topliss painstakingly presents the variety of sites around Melbourne, in the bush and on the coast, reconstructing their original character and the history of their accessibility.
The major figures are well known — Roberts, McCubbin, Streeton and Conder — but there were a number of 'minor' artists associated with the various painting spots that have been too long neglected. A research programme is here initiated in the hope that some of these figures might be more fully returned to us. The restoration of the sites provokes a more extensive roll-call of artists involved in the plein air phenomenon.
Various expressions of nationalism in the late nineteenth century have been accorded attention: the painters contributed in varying degrees. But it is, finally, the quality of the painting, the freshness, the particularity of nuance, the calculated aesthetic angles that have governed response and inspired affection. The elegant relaxation themes of many of the paintings have in fact been overlooked in the intellectualization of the quest for 'national identity'. The orchards and the beaches, the ladies promenading a la mode on the beach at Mentone or in the grasses of Box Hill are as important to our artistic tradition and social history as the shearers of rams.