Weekdays: 10am-4pm
Weekends: 11am-4pm

historic Members of the VICTORIAN ARTISTS SOCIETY

The building and the Society are historically significant because they have been associated with the early career of almost every eminent Australian artist of this and the last century.

It is within these walls that young artists including Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, Tom Roberts, Walter Withers, Frederick McCubbin, and many others, commenced their journey of brushstrokes, which today form the foundation of Australia’s major art collections in national galleries across Australia.

Many of these works were purchased from members’ exhibitions, a process which continues today as the Victorian Artists Society, with members from all works of life and all levels of skill, continue to learn to paint and exhibit.

This building is a public asset and learning centre for following generations, and is open to the public and all of those who love art. The studio and galleries are still being used the way our predecessors had intended for teaching, artistic expression and exhibiting. The studio provides a place for artists to come and study under the guidance of experienced tutors and to meet other creative like-minded people.  The galleries provide a wonderful light and contemporary space showcasing many different works of art throughout the year.

Visitors are encouraged to come and view the exhibitions as well as attend opening events from Australian and  international exhibitors

The building is the permanent home for the members of the Victorian Artists Society creating a welcoming and friendly community. The VAS is a statewide society but extends its membership nationally. 

New members are welcome.

The Victorian Artists Society celebrated 150 years of history as well as the completion of major restoration works in 2020.

Read about the event here. 

Read About Significant Past Members

Walter Withers 1854–1914



Born in England, Withers moved to Australia in 1882.

Five years later he travelled to Europe and married, then after 12 months moved back to Australia and settled in Eaglemont Victoria. He was quickly embraced by young Tom Roberts and the energetic emerging painters of the Heidelberg movement.

Withers was a VAS member from 1886–1911, serving as President in 1905. 

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Original Birth Certificate of Walter Herbert Withers to Edward and Sarah

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The original Marriage Certificate of Walter Withers to Miss Fanny Flynn in 1887

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Letter to Withers from the Presbyterian Ladies College, 1914

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Withers in his studio and with his family, 1888

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Self Portrait Sketch, 1886

Frederick McCubbin 1855–1917



McCubbin was President in 1903, then again in 1909 and on Council from 1911.

He was a loved and revered teacher and a solid VAS member, studying as a young man at the National Gallery School in Melbourne.

He was fondly known as ‘The Prof’ due to his thoughtful and introspective personality.

Our bluestone teaching studio, built in the 1870s, was where McCubbin commenced his long career with the VAS but our central Gallery upstairs named after the artist 100 years later serves as a perpetual reminder of this wonderful painter and much loved tutor to so many.

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Tom Roberts 1856–1931



Roberts was a key player within the Heidelberg School art movement.

He was an early VAS Council member and an active mover and shaker within the Society—initiating along with several fellow painters, the formation of a new professional group to be known as the ‘Australian Artists’ Association’.

However, after several years this group re joined the ‘old brigade’ to eventually form the newly named ‘Victorian Artists Society’.

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The Child In the Shearing Shed


In this well known work Shearing of the Rams by Tom Roberts, the little figure of the child holding the tar pot is a small girl, whose name was Susan. She was seven year old Susan Bourne, born in Corowa NSW in 1881.

Susan Davis nee Bourne, as a young woman (carrying baby, centre photo) and in her later years. She died in 1979 at the age of 98, leaving behind 3 children, 14 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and 4 great-great grandchildren.

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The present day site of the Brocklesby Station woolshed, depicted by Roberts in this much loved painting.

Paul Montford 1868–1938



Montford was President of the VAS from 1930 to 1932.

He was a much-admired sculptor within the Society, and was a colourful, if not controversial and difficult member from time to time.

After studying at the Royal Academy London, and winning a major award, he returned to Australia to work on a number of significant bronzes.

His impressive achievements include the Adam Lindsay Gordon statue in Spring Street Melbourne; seven-metre high statuary for the Shrine of Remembrance as well as the figure of John Wesley, commissioned to stand outside the Wesley Church, Melbourne.

Until the 1990s, there were more Paul Montford sculptures in and around Melbourne than any other artist.


Montford's Studio 1934

Left to Right: Lyndon Dadswell (Sculptor); Stanley Hammond (Sculptor); Paul Montford (Sculptor); Eric Patching (Plaster Caster)

Arthur Streeton 1867–1943



Born in Victoria Streeton commenced art studies at the National Gallery School Melbourne—and in 1885 presented his first Exhibition at the Victorian Academy of Art.

During the long, dry summer of 1888, he fell under the spell of the hot, golden countryside around Eaglemont—in outer Melbourne and along with fellow artists, Walter Withers and John Mather and a handful of other local painters pursued the particular style of outdoor painting known as plein air’. He shared studio space with young Tom Roberts whilst enjoying the company of Charles Condor—an already established plein air devotee.

Throughout the next two years, these ‘brothers of the bush’ painted furiously, enjoying a bohemian lifestyle in the company of local writers and musicians eventually all painting under the roof of the original, blue stone studio at 430 Albert Street—Eastern Hill. From 1891, Streeton mnoved to Sydney for a period of time and kept up a warm and detailed exchange of letters with Tom Roberts—letters compiled in the book Smike to Bulldog, edited by RH Croll.

This close group of ‘Heidelberg’ painters, whilst sharing their passion for art and their love of good literature, bestowed on each other—rather curious and fanciful nicknames.

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Arthur Streeton

The purple noon's transparent might, by Arthur Streeton, 1896

This famous group regarded their art with a ‘seriousness that amounted almost to religion.’


(Smike to Bulldog, 1946)


William Frater 1890–1974



Frater was a pioneer of Post Impressionism in Australia.

He studied at the Glasgow School of Art, specialising in stained glass.

He was an influential and colourful member of the VAS, joining the Society in 1913, then becoming Councillor and finally President in 1964.

Our North Gallery was named after him—and he also received a Life membership in recognition of his long and loyal service to the Society.

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Stanley Hammond 1913–2000



During a career spanning 70 years, Hammond became one of Australia’s most versatile sculptors, specialising in large public sculptures.

He studied under VAS Sculptors Orlando Dutton and Paul Montford, learning the unique skills of bronze sculpture. His works can be seen throughout Australia, one notable piece being the six bronze panels for the entrance to the Albert Park Reserve.

He was President of the VAS for five terms, a Council member for 38 years and honoured with a Society Fellowship.

Our ‘Hammond’ Gallery with its beautiful balcony, remains a constant reminder of this artist’s encouraging and generous contribution to the VAS. 

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Stanley Hammond in his studio.

Photographer, Alfreda Hammond

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Stanley Hammond by Donald Cameron

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Acknowledgment of traditional owners.

We would like to pay our respects to the traditional owners of the land on which our building stands, their leaders, past, present and emerging.