Tom Roberts' portrait of his close friend and colleague Arthur Streeton was made in Sydney in 1891, and Roberts kept it until his death. It is a 'friendship portrait' – informal and highly personal, expressive of the bond of camaraderie and respect between the two artists.
Roberts probably painted the oil while camping with Streeton at Little Sirius Cove on Sydney Harbour. Although Roberts is perhaps better known for his grand subject paintings and landscapes during the 1890s, he was also an outstanding portrait painter. Over a third of his artistic output was devoted to portraiture, and throughout his life he largely supported himself through commissions in this genre.