Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Australian art

View More:


Holiday in Essex



George W Lambert

Russia, Australia

1873 - 1930


'Holiday in Essex' was the last of Lambert's important group of Velásquez-inspired portrait groups. This monumental painting displays a scale and opulence of paint-handling exemplifying Lambert's inspiration to paint in the 'grand manner'. Painted in his London studio, the subject was derived from the family holiday at Mersea Island in Essex and depicts Lambert's wife Amy and sons Constant and Maurice. Arthur José described its conception in 'The Art of George Lambert A.R.A.', in 1924:

'It began as a deliberate attempt to emulate the Spanish (or rather the continental) convention of the days of Velasquez ... the placing of the figures and the background, and the lighting of the studio was so arranged as to produce the traditional chiaroscuro of that epoch. The landscape, though remembered from Essex, was built up on a high platform in the studio, on which the group was posed, pony and all ... The artist in fact, was testing himself: "Can I, too, paint with the methods devised so long ago and approved by tradition?" '


Other Titles

Holyday at Essex

Jour de fête en Essex



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


181.0 x 227.0 cm sight edge; 183.8 x 230.6 cm stretcher; 210.0 x 256.0 x 10.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.r. corner, black oil "G.W.LAMBERT". Not dated.


Purchased with assistance from the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales and the Marshall Bequest Fund 1981

Accession number


Artist information

George W Lambert

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 19 publications


Candice Bruce, Brought to Light: Australian Art 1850–1965 from the Queensland Art Gallery collection, 'Family and a Special Friend. George Washington Lambert Portrait group (The mother)', pg. 102-7, Brisbane, 1998, 102.

Edmund Capon AM, OBE, I blame Duchamp: my life's adventures in art, 'John Bull and the Little Boy at Manly', pg. 321-333, Sydney, 2009, 323, 325, 327 (colour illus.).

Deborah Edwards, Two centuries of Australian painting: a selection from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Introduction', pg. 8-14, Sydney, 1986, 11, 24, 35 (colour illus.). 16

Elizabeth Fortesque., Daily telegraph, 'Art is in the frame', Sydney, 04 Aug 2000, page unknown (colour illus., detail). Article about restoration of frames for the 'Australian Icons' exhibition and features a photograph of David Butler with 'Holiday in Essex'.

Anne Gray, George Lambert (1873-1930) catalogue raisonné: paintings and sculpture, drawings in public collections, Perth, 1996, 34, 35. P114

Ali Gripper., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Great art starts with the framework', Sydney, 04 Aug 2000, page unknown (colour illus.). Article about restoration of frames for the 'Australian Icons' exhibition and features a photograph of Installation Crew with 'Holiday in Essex'.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 130 (colour illus.).

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'George Lambert's drawings', pg. 22-23, Sydney, Oct 2006, 22.

Meg van Kool, Look, 'George Lambert: 1873-1930 Draughtsman painter', pg. 38, Melbourne, May 2000, 38 (colour illus.). Australian Icon series

Lionel Lindsay, Art in Australia [vol. 1, no. 7], 'George W. Lambert', pg. 2-6, Sydney, 1919, 5.

Ewen McDonald, AGNSW Collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 24 (colour illus.), 25.

Barry Pearce, Look, 'Jewel of a painting returns: Out of Australian sight for nearly ninety years', pg. 12-13, Sydney, Mar 2010, 12.

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 20 (illus.).

Barry Pearce, Look: 1953-2003 celebrating 50 years, 'Presenting our own artists: how the AGS put balance into the Australian collection', pg. 42-44, Sydney, May 2003, 43.

Ursula Prunster, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Home and abroad', pg. 73-74, Sydney, 2000, 74, 96, 97 (colour illus.), 301.

Jennifer Sexton., The Australian, 'A crime where the victim was framed', Sydney, 03 Aug 2000, page unknown (illus., detail). Article about restoration of frames for the 'Australian Icons' exhibition and features a photograph of David Butler with 'Holiday in Essex'.

Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, 'Good news in the air: introducing SBS radio broadcaster and new Society Council Member Phoebe Alexander', pg. 46, Sydney, Dec 2002-Jan 2003, 46 (colour illus.). Interview between Alejandra Szcaepaniak and Phoebe Alexander.

Martin Terry, Art Monthly Australia, 'Moulin Rouge: Charles Conder at the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 31-34, Canberra, Nov 2003, 34.

Editor Unknown, Pictures of 1910 Prize Competition: 'Pall Mall magazine extra', London, 1910, 65 (illus.).