What Was the Heidelberg School, and why is it Considered Important in the History of Australian Art? .
The Heidelberg School was an Australian school of art that held a dominant influence and significant importance in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The students were very nationalistic in their attitude towards landscape art. They were interested in producing contemporary impressionism that more accurately demonstrated the Australian environment than previous works throughout Australia's history. Influences on the Heidelberg School consisted of; the great artist Louis Buvelot with his knowledge and support of French impressionism and the Barbizon school who were practicing impressionist artists working in France. The students demonstrated the Plein air painting technique, painting directly from nature. The Heidelberg School was important in the history of Australian art as it introduced impressionism and a more accurate depiction of the landscape through colours and lighting.
The students of the Heidelberg School consisted of; Charles Conder, Sir Arthur Earnest Streeton, Fredrick Mc Cubbin, David Davies, Jane Sutherland, Clara Southern and Walter Withers and was led by Thomas William Roberts. The intension of the art produced by the Heidelberg school was to accurately portray the colours and lighting of the Australian landscape. The paintings they produced were plein air impressionist images of landscapes and people. An example of the characteristics of these paintings can be found in Arthur Streeton's "The purple noon's transparent might (1886). This painting is of a body of water that backs onto Australian countryside. The colours used and the depiction of lighting is accurate in portraying an Australian landscape. There is no fine detail to the picture but there is a definitive truth to life in the image portrayed. Due to the pride and nationalistic attitude of the students they felt a profound need to demonstrate the identity of their country through their work.