A BRIEF HISTORY
The Victorian Artists Society had its beginnings in 1870 when a small group of artists and lay persons met in magistrate James Robertson’s house at Blessington Street, St. Kilda, to form the Victorian Academy of the Arts – the direct ancestor of the VAS. Among the founders were Louis Buvelot, J A Panton, Thomas Clark and Hubert de Castella.
This heavyweight group were instrumental in not only securing the Crown Land Grant on which our building now stands, but in the early establishment of the Society as a legal entity. Immediately following the grant of land in Albert Street in 1873, a small bluestone building was erected, which although almost totally subsumed by the present building, still serves both as a studio and a reminder of our colonial past.
In 1886 the professional artist members, led by Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and Charles Conder formed the Australian Artists Association
Later in 1887 talks commenced to unite the two groups forming the Victorian Artists Society. 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 Victorian Artists Society's historic restoration of the building will ensure this historic birthplace of Australian art continues as an important part in the lives of significant and ordinary Australians, from the time it opened its doors in 1892 and well into the future.