9 by 5 Impression Exhibition

Portrait by Arthur Streeton of Louis Abrahams smoking a cigar. Abrahams, a tobacconist, supplied the artists with wooden cigar-box lids for painting impressions. Many of the lids measured 9 by 5 inches, hence the name of the exhibition.

The 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition was an art exhibition in Melbourne, Australia. It opened on 17 August 1889 at Buxton's Rooms on Swanston Street and featured 183 works, the majority of which were painted by the Australian impressionists Charles Conder, Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton. The exhibition's name references the dimensions of most of the paintings—9 by 5 inches (23 cm × 13 cm), the size of the cigar box lids upon which many of the works were painted—as well as the impressionist techniques employed by the artists.[1]

The majority of the 9 by 5s were painted over the autumn and winter of 1889, which is reflected in the tones and weather effects of many of the landscapes. The rural suburb of Heidelberg, where Streeton had established an artists' camp the previous year, is featured in many of the works. Melbourne's urban life and culture are also well-represented, with landmarks such as Princess Theatre, the Old Treasury and the Burke and Wills statue making appearances, as well as the city's trams and games of Australian rules football.

The exhibition created much lively commentary at the time and is now seen as a "celebrated event in Australian art history".[1] 9 by 5s continue to appear on the market; in 2019, Roberts' She-Oak and Sunlight sold at Sotheby's for A$770,000.[2] In 2012, to mark the 123rd anniversary of the exhibition, arts benefactor Max Carter donated four 9 by 5s (valued at over A$3,000,000) to the Art Gallery of South Australia, the largest group of 9 by 5s ever given to an Australian public institution.[3]

Gallery of 9 by 5sEdit


  1. ^ a b "9 by 5 Impression Exhibition". Australian Impressionism. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria. Archived from the original on 9 April 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
  2. ^ Important Australian Art: Tom Roberts, She-Oak and Sunlight, Sotheby's. Retrieved on 29 December 2019.
  3. ^ "Art Gallery of South Australia receives largest group of '9 by 5' paintings", Art Daily. Retrieved 25 October 2012.

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