The greatest achievement of the "Heidelberg School" was to bring French Pleinairism to Australia.
Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton and Charles Conder were active in Heidelberg - not the German town, but a Melbourne suburb - located in an idyllic landscape that reminded of the region along the Neckar river in Germany, in the late 19th century, they were the most prominent figures of the "Heidelberg School". The three artists mentioned first used to form the "Box Hill Scholl" up until 1891, when the art critic Sidney Dickinson introduced the term "Heidelberg School" to refer to the artists colony of en plein air painters, which had meanwhile grown to a remarkable size.
The paintings of the "Heidelberg School" were the first that honored Australian landscapes, the members used to spend the summer months together in a house in Heidelberg. Following European models, the ambience of light and colors of the Australian landscapes were captured in their plein air paintings. The Heidelberg artists depicted domestic landscapes in their open realist-impressionist works, but they also depicted urban scenes in their paintings. The numerous, often monumental paintings that were made by members of the "Heidelberg School", have become national icons in Australia, regardless of their formal orientation towards Europe.
Works in a smaller format were also made by the "Heidelberg School" - on the lids of cigar boxes to be more specific, exactly measuring 9 x 5 inch. Following the model of James McNeill Whistler, 182 of theses sketches were shown by 7 painters in August 1889, in the both famous and harshly criticized "9 by 5 Impression Exhibition". This is also where members of the "Heidelberg School" first considered themselves impressionists. Between 1886 and 1888, the artists' group showed works in other exhibitions that were organized together with the "Australian Artists` Association".
Besides those that have been mentioned, other members were Jane Sutherland, Clara Southern, Aby Altson, Charles Douglas Richardson and Artu Loureiro. The "Heidelberg School" began to gradually break apart in the 1890s.