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Australian art

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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.


From the Gallery Shop


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

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 12 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 62 publications


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

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

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.).

Dr Joseph Brown (Editor), The CBUS collection of Australian art, Melbourne, 2009, 52.

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.

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

C Christesen (Editor), Meanjin, Melbourne, Summer 1951, 355.

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

Aedeen Cremin (Editor), 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.).

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,.

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

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

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.

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.

John Kroeger and Dion Skinner (Editors), Renniks Australian artists, Adelaide, 1968, 227 (illus.).

Amy Lambert, Thirty years of an artist's life : the career of G.W. Lambert, A.R.A, Sydney, 1977, 16, 17, 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, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. 40

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

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

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

Margaret Meagher (Editor), State of the arts, 'AGNSW polishes the silver', pg. 12, Sydney, Aug 2000-Dec 2000, 12. 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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colin Thiele, Heysen of Hahndorf, Adelaide, 1974, 288.

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

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

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

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

Editor Unknown (Editor), Bulletin, 'The Artfellow', Sydney, 02 Sep 1899, page unknown.

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

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 19 Aug 1899, 10.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Lone Hand, Sydney, 02 Feb 1914, 170.

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

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

Editor Unknown (Editor), Weekend Liberal, 'Cultural centre', pg. 15, Dubbo, 23 Sep 2006-24 Sep 2006.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Mailbox shopper, 'Cultural centre opens today', pg. 4, Dubbo, 27 Sep 2006.

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

Editor Unknown (Editor), Art and Architecture, Sydney, Jan 1905, page unknown.

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

Editor Unknown (Editor), Daily telegraph, Sydney, 04 Dec 1900, 4.

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