'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?" '
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
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Society of Artists Spring Exhibition (1913), Society Rooms, Queen Victoria Markets, Sydney, Nov 1913 -
Two centuries of Australian painting, a selection from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Orange Regional Gallery, Orange, 19 Apr 1986–15 Jun 1986
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
George Lambert retrospective: heroes & icons, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 29 Jun 2007–16 Sep 2007
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.
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.). cat.no. 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'.
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.
Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 20 (illus.).
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, 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'.
Martin Terry, Art Monthly Australia, 'Moulin Rouge: Charles Conder at the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 31-34, Canberra, Nov 2003, 34.
Pictures of 1910 Prize Competition: 'Pall Mall magazine extra', London, 1910, 65 (illus.).
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.).
George Lambert (1873-1930) catalogue raisonné: paintings and sculpture, drawings in public collections, Perth, 1996, 34, 35. cat.no. P114
AGNSW Collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 24 (colour illus.), 25.
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.