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While influenced by the Heidelberg School, Long's first successful painting, By Tranquil Waters (1894), shows a markedly different engagement with the Australian scene: where Heidelberg artists such as Arthur Streeton and Frederick McCubbin showed the Bush as a place of work and struggle (and occasional sentimentality), Long's painting of young naked bathers is hedonistic and charged with low-key eroticism — the eroticism, rather than the nudity per se, was the cause of the scandal. After 1895 Long moved even further from the Heidelberg School's approach to the Australian landscape (a fusion of Victorian genre painting and a Barbizon-like plein air informal realism), seeking instead to achieve "soulful and graceful evocations of the spirit of the land, as did the Greeks and their beautiful myths." In practice this resulted in a new school of Australian Paganism, reflected in the literature of the period as much as in the art, and counting among its practitioners Lionel Lindsay and his brother Norman.
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Sydney Long, Australian Dictionary of Biography.
Long, Sydney (1894). "By tranquil waters". AGNSW collection record. Art Gallery of New South Wales.
"Sydney Long". AGNSW collection record. Art Gallery of New South Wales. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
Long, Sydney (1898). "Pan". AGNSW collection record. Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Sydney Long Exhibition at the NGA