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Opening of the first Parliament of the Australian Commonwealth, 9th May 1901 - with remarque of Edward VII Theme: Beginnings

Artist: Tom ROBERTS
Birth/Death: 1856–1931

Title: Opening of the first Parliament of the Australian Commonwealth, 9th May 1901 - with remarque of Edward VII

Credit Line: Gift of the second Lord Tennyson 1960. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Tom Roberts wrote about the Federation ceremony to his son:

'When the great day came your mother and I went to the hall of the Exhibition Building, and without getting seats, walked quietly at the very back, and climbing up some rails, I was able to see that immense gathering of people from Australia, and from so many parts of the world. It was very solemn and great. The heads on the floor looked like a landscape.’

This memory, together with official photographs and almost 300 portrait studies enabled Roberts to paint the ‘big picture’ of the opening ceremony.

This is the signed photogravure made in 1903 of the painting now in Parliament House. As such it marked the welcome end of two years of intense and exhausting work. 'Off the chain', wrote Tom Roberts with relief.


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