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Self portrait with gladioli, 1922

George Lambert

oil on canvas (frame: 159.0 cm x 132.5 cm depth 14.0 cm, sight: 128.2 cm x 102.8 cm)

George Lambert (1873–1930), artist, was a jackeroo before moving to Sydney to work as an illustrator and attend art school. After winning the first New South Wales Society of Artists’ Travelling Scholarship in 1900 he studied and worked in Paris and London, becoming an Associate of the Royal Academy and remaining abroad until 1921. The only official war artist of the First World War to be appointed to the rank of Honorary Captain, he produced immense, violent paintings of the landing at Gallipoli and the charge of the Light Horse at Beersheba.

Although he looks relaxed and elegant, at the time Self portrait with gladioli was painted Lambert was suffering periodic attacks of exhaustion brought on by his gruelling schedule of painting and lecturing. He remarked to his wife that this work, one of several self portraits, ‘cost him dearly in money and swat’. After Lambert’s death, his London-based son, Maurice, angrily described the painting as a ‘brilliant piece of technique’ with which his father ‘disguised from the mediocre but revealed to the sensitive just what a few years in Australia had done to him’. Over the ensuing years Lambert spent what remained of his energy working relentlessly on portraits and sculptures. He died of heart failure while attending to his horse at Cobbitty in May 1930.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of John Schaeffer AO 2003
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number: 2003.93

Currently on display: Gallery Four (Liangis Gallery)

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Artist and subject

George Lambert (age 49 in 1922)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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