Charles Edward Conder, or K as he was known to his friends, was born on the 24th October 1868 in London. He spent several years as a young child in India before the death of his mother in 1873 when he was sent back to England and attended a number of schools. He left school at the age of 15 when his very religious, non-artistic father, who was against Charles’s natural artistic inclinations, decided that he should become a civil engineer.
Accordingly in 1884 at the age of 17 Charles was sent to Sydney, Australia where he worked for his uncle who was a land surveyor for the New South Wales government. However Charles disliked the work, much preferring to draw the landscape rather than survey it. In 1886, he left the job and became an artist for the ‘Illustrated Sydney News.” He also attended painting classes and joined the Art Society of New South Wales. Conder met artist Tom Roberts in Sydney in March 1888. Roberts encouraged Conder to visit Melbourne and in the spring of 1888, Conder painted with Roberts at their Box Hill camp. Conder spent the following summer of 1888-89 at the Eaglemont artist’s camp with Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Fredrick McCubbin and several other early Australian painters. These first camps marked the beginning of what came to be called The Heidelberg School. It was during this year that Conder painted one of his most acclaimed paintings, ‘A Holiday At Mentone.’
In 1890, an uncle provided him with the means to study in Paris for two years. He left Melbourne and travelled to Paris where he came under the influence of the Impressionist painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, who later painted Conder’s portrait. On 5th December 1900 Conder married Stella Maris Belford, a Canadian, and for the next 6 years lived in London. He died at Virginia Water, in Surrey, England on the 9th April 1909. Conder’s works capturing the natural beauty of local areas around Heidelberg have won international acclaim. Ivanhoe Primary’s Blue House have chosen to honour his significant contribution to the art world by perpetuating his name as our House namesake.