Music and Cross-Cultural Exchange in the Art of Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and James McNeill Whistler Academic Article uri icon


  • Influenced by the American-born, London-based artist James McNeill Whistler, the Australian painters Tom Roberts (1856-1931) and Arthur Streeton (1867-1943) cultivated an interest in music and in Asian and exotic motifs as their subject matters. Their use of musical titles and a compositional approach fashioned by Japonisme demonstrates their deliberate alignment with both the British aesthetic movement and French impressionism as well as their participation in the wider, international context of cross-cultural aesthetic exchange. Questioning whether there was ever a direct cultural exchange between East and West (perhaps stimulated by the participation of Asian countries in the International Exhibitions held in Melbourne in 1880 and 1888), or simply a desire on the behalf of Australian artists and their public to follow the fashions set by England and Paris, explored is the meaning of and reasons behind the frequent association of music and exotic cultures in the Australian art of this period.

publication date

  • 2013

published in

  • Music in Art: International Journal for Music Iconography


  • Research Center for Music Iconography, City University of New York