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Across the black soil plains



George W Lambert

Russia, Australia

1873 - 1930


Inspired by his experiences as a youth in the bush near Warren, NSW, George W Lambert began this ambitious work at the age of 26, while living with his mother at Hornsby. He worked in a small shed in the garden, and had to position the painting diagonally across it, even then unable to stretch the canvas to its full extent.

The painting was enthusiastically received as a heroic portrayal of bush life, displaying Lambert's innate skill at draughtsmanship. It was awarded the Wynne Prize for landscape painting for 1899, and the following year Lambert left for London with the first New South Wales Society of Artists Travelling Scholarship.

This work was acquired by the Gallery in 1899.


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Place where the work was made

Hornsby Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


91.6 x 305.5 cm stretcher; 139.5 x 355.0 x 10.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r., "Geo. W. Lambert 1899".


Purchased 1899

Accession number


Wynne Prize

Winner - 1899

Artist information

George W Lambert

Works in the collection


Shown in 12 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 62 publications


Julian Ashton., Daily telegraph, ‘National Art Gallery: The Australian Court’, Sydney, 27 Sep 1905, page unknown (illus.).

Julian Ashton, Daily telegraph, article, Sydney, 27 Oct 1910, 9.

Leigh Astbury, Australia 1888: a journal for the study of Australian history centred on the year 1888, 'Frederick McCubbin: the spirit of the pioneers', pg. 26-58, Melbourne, 1982, 43-44.

Nicolas Brasch, Horses in Australia: an illustrated history, 'Tilling and toiling', pg. 226-239, Sydney, 2014, 230-231 (colour illus.).

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, 104.

Heather Crosby, Weekend Liberal, 'Keeping the dream alive', pg. 10, Dubbo, 26 May 2001-27 May 2001, 10.

Douglas Dundas, Art Gallery of New South Wales quarterly, 'The Wynne and Sulman prizes', pg. 53-56, Sydney, Jan 1961, 54.

Dinah Dysart, The Wynne prize: an Australian landscape tradition, 'The public and critical response to the Wynne prize', pg. 15-22, Sydney, 1986, 6, 7 (illus.), 18,.

Sasha Grishin, Australian art: a history, 'Australian expatriates of the Edwardian period in Great Britain', pg. 160-173, Carlton, 2013, 161 (colour illus.), 548, 563. plate no. 17.1

Robert Hughes, The art of Australia, Melbourne, 1970, 97-98.

Unknown and Graeme Inson, The glorious years of Australia fair from the birth of the Bulletin to Versailles, Milton, 1971, 23 (illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 124 (colour illus.).

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

J. G. de Libra, Australasian art review, ‘The poetry of our painting’, pg. 1-12, Sydney, 01 Sep 1899, 10, 11 (illus.), 12. referred to as 'Across the Blacksoil Plains' on pg. 10.

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

Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. 40

Anne McLaughlin, People and destiny: George Lambert and Federation, 'People and destiny: George Lambert and Federation', pg. 10-33, Dubbo, 2001, 3, 6 (colour illus.), 7-9, 14, 20, 27, 38.

Humphrey McQueen, Art Monthly Australia, 'Positions vacant', pg. 21-23, Canberra, Sep 2000, 21. review of 'Australian icons' exhibition

Denise Mimmocchi, Australian Symbolism: the art of dreams, 'Madness and the Symbolist female subject', pg.46-50, Sydney, 2012, 50.

Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. 50

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

Barry Pearce, Look, 'A quiet love affair: private passion over 33 years gives birth to a book', pg. 26-29, Sydney, Sep 2014, 28-29 (colour illus.). extract

Peter Pinson, Elwyn Lynn: metaphor + texture, St Leonards, 2002, 41. Elwyn Lynn painted 'Across the Black Soil Plains' in 1961, derived from Lambert's painting.

Ursula Prunster, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Home and abroad', pg. 73-74, Sydney, 2000, 74, 94 (colour illus., detail), 95 (colour illus.), 301.

Bernard Smith, 100 years of Australian painting, 'Foreword', pg. 2-4, Sydney, 1948, 8. 31

Sydney Ure Smith (Editor), Art of Australia 1788-1941, New York, 1941, 35. 48

W.Hardy Wilson, Lone Hand, article, Sydney, 01 Nov 1910, 5-6.

Unknown, City bushmen: the Heidelberg school and the rural mythology, Melbourne, 1985, 148, 149 (illus.), 150.

Unknown, Place, taste and tradition: a study of Australian art since 1788, South Melbourne, 1979, 81, 154. titled 'Crossing of the black soil plains'.

Unknown, Thirty years of an artist's life : the career of G.W. Lambert, A.R.A, Sydney, 1977, 16, 17, 22.

Australian landscapes in colour, Adelaide, 1975, 74-75 (colour illus.).

Heysen of Hahndorf, Adelaide, 1974, 288.

Mailbox shopper, 'Cultural centre opens today', pg. 4, Dubbo, 27 Sep 2006.

Daily liberal, Dubbo, 28 Sep 2006, 4, 4 (illus.).

Renniks Australian artists, Adelaide, 1968, 227 (illus.).

Unknown, Art of Australia. Vol 1: Exploration to Federation, Sydney, 2008, 634.

Unknown, A catalogue of Australian oil paintings in the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1875-1952, Sydney, 1953, 105.

Meanjin, Melbourne, Summer 1951, 355.

Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 25 Mar 1939, 21.

Unknown (Editor), Look, 'The art that made me: Peter Kingston', pg. 12-13, Sydney, Aug 2016, 13 (colour illus.).

Unknown (Editor), The CBUS collection of Australian art, Melbourne, 2009, 52.

Lone Hand, Sydney, 02 Feb 1914, 170.

Art and Architecture, Sydney, Jan 1905, page unknown.

Bulletin, Sydney, 30 Oct 1902, 25 (illus.).

Daily telegraph, Sydney, 04 Dec 1900, 4.

Australian magazine, Sydney, 18 Sep 1899, 413-414 (illus.). article by 'Raw Sienna' [George Lambert]

Bulletin, 'The Artfellow', Sydney, 02 Sep 1899, page unknown.

Sydney mail and New South Wales advertiser, Sydney, 26 Aug 1899, 503 (illus.), 504-505. article by E.D.H.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 19 Aug 1899, 10.

Unknown, Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1899, Sydney, 1899, 52 (sepia illus.). 293; Oil Paintings-Australian

Unknown, Society of Artists Spring Exhibition, Sydney, 1899, 7 (line illus.). 67; priced £105.0.0

1901: Australian life at federation: an illustrated chronicle, 'Riding on the sheep's back: the wool industry', pg. 51-57, Sydney, 2001, 56-57 (colour illus.).

Unknown (Editor), State of the arts, 'AGNSW polishes the silver', pg. 12, Sydney, Aug 2000-Dec 2000, 12. Review of 'Australian Icons' exhibition.

The art of war, 'The birth of a legend', pg. 1-47, Carlton, 2004, 22-23 (colour illus.), 177.

Art in Australia: from Colonization to Postmodernism, London, 1997, 77, 78 (illus.), 220. cat. no. 58

Unknown, Wynne centenary 1897-1997: a selection of past winners from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1997, (colour illus.).

Unknown (Editor), Art and Artifice: George Lambert (1873-1930), 1996, 12, 19 (colour illus.), 23-25, 34-35, 159, 174, 177, 178.

Unknown, George Lambert (1873-1930) catalogue raisonné: paintings and sculpture, drawings in public collections, Perth, 1996, 5-7. P29

Author Unknown, Wool in the Australian imagination, Glebe, 1994, (illus.).

Unknown and Unknown, Australian painting 1788-1990, 'Exodus', pg. 126-166 Chapter five, South Melbourne, 1991, 156 (illus.). plate no. 88

Making Australian art 1916-49 : Sydney Ure Smith, patron and publisher, South Melbourne, 1991, 88-89 (illus.), 98.

Weekend Liberal, 'Cultural centre', pg. 15, Dubbo, 23 Sep 2006-24 Sep 2006.