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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

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 not on display

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Artist and subject

George Lambert (age 49 in 1922)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

George Lambert portrait story video: 1 minute
George Lambert portrait story video: 1 minute
George Lambert portrait story video: 1 minute
George Lambert portrait story video: 1 minute

George Lambert

'Self Portrait with Gladioli'

Portrait story

An examination of the life and times of George Lambert through the gesture and pose in his self portrait. 

Self portrait with gladioli, 1922 George Lambert
Self portrait with gladioli, 1922 George Lambert
Self portrait with gladioli, 1922 George Lambert
Self portrait with gladioli, 1922 George Lambert

Money and swat

Magazine article by Andrew Sayers AM, 2007

Andrew Sayers discusses the real cost of George Lambert's Self portrait with gladioli 1922.

Self portrait with gladioli, 1922 George Lambert
Self portrait with gladioli, 1922 George Lambert
Self portrait with gladioli, 1922 George Lambert
Self portrait with gladioli, 1922 George Lambert

Facing Facts

Magazine article by Andrew Sayers AM, 2003

Former NPG Director, Andrew Sayers describes the 1922 Self-portrait with Gladioli by George Lambert.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.