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Self portrait with gladioli

1922
George Lambert

oil on canvas (frame: 156.6 cm x 133.0 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.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.
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Audio description

3 minutes 34 seconds
Show transcript

Artist and subject

George Lambert (age 49 in 1922)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Mr John Schaeffer AO (1 portrait)

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

'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
Self portrait with gladioli
Self portrait with gladioli
Self portrait with gladioli

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.

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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