… Mr Lambert stated that a slight allegory might be suggested by the composition of his work, as it represented motherhood and the future generations, the fighting forces of the world and the administrative qualities, without which the world (the red cart wheel) would not go round smoothly.
Herald, 18 March 1921
By creating a portrait of ordinary people - a flower-seller, a clerk and a boxer - George W Lambert sought to parody the convention of only those with wealth or social status having their portraits painted. He questioned social values by mixing people of different social classes.
While Lambert's approach was formalist, emphasising design and composition, his subject reflected various interests of the day as well as his acquaintance with Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, whom Lambert particularly admired for his ridicule of social snobbery.
oil on canvas
134.7 x 171.0 cm stretcher; 152.8 x 189.4 x 8.5 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed upper c., green oil inside an oval "G.W.LAMBERT/ ...". Not dated.
Not on display
Shown in 8 exhibitions
War and Peace: including the war pictures painted for and lent by the Commonwealth of Australia, Royal Academy of Arts, London, Feb 1919 -
Geo. W. Lambert (1921), Society of Artists, Sydney, 12 May 1921–28 May 1921
Society of Artists Annual Exhibition (1921), Education Department Gallery [Loftus Street], Sydney, 10 Sep 1921–01 Oct 1921
George Lambert Memorial Exhibition (1930), Anthony Horderns' Fine Art Gallery, 25 Sep 1930–15 Oct 1930
A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Sep 1953–25 Oct 1953
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
The Edwardians: Secrets and Desire:
George Lambert retrospective: heroes & icons, National Gallery of Australia, Parkes, 29 Jun 2007–16 Sep 2007
Referenced in 24 publications
Julian Ashton, The Art of George W Lambert, Sydney, 1924, (colour illus.). not paginated, plate no. 2
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, 107.
Sarah Engledow', The world of Thea Proctor, 'The world of Thea Proctor', pg. 16-84, Canberra, 2005, 39.
puzzle painters: Quaint humour at the Grosvenor Gallery'., Daily express, 'New conundrums, London, 16 Apr 1914, page unknown. Exhibition review of the International Society's 1914 exhibition.
Anne Gray, The Edwardians: secrets and desires, 'The Edwardians', pg. 10-71, Canberra, 2004, 45, 46 (colour illus.), 48, 65, 188 (colour illus.). cat.no. 74
Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'George Lambert's drawings', pg. 22-23, Sydney, Oct 2006, 22.
Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. cat.no. 87
William Moore, The story of Australian art from the earliest known art of the continent to the art of today (Vol. 1), 'Galleries', pg. 179-214, Sydney, 1934, (illus.).
Barry Pearce, Look, 'New Look for 20th Century Australian Galleries', pg. 13, Heidelberg, Nov 1998, 13.
Barry Pearce, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Introduction', pg. 10-16, Sydney, 2000, 14, 15 (colour illus.), 96 (colour illus.), 301.
Wayne Tunnicliffe and Deborah Edwards, Look, ‘New Australia’, pg. 24-27, Sydney, May 2012, 24, 26 (colour illus.).
Unknown and Unknown, Australian painting 1788-1990, 'Leviticus 1913-32', pg. 167-204, South Melbourne, 1991, 182, 184 (illus.). illus. no. 105
Unknown, The Lamberts. George, Constant & Kit, London, 1986, (illus.). plate no. 9
Unknown, Place, taste and tradition: a study of Australian art since 1788, 'The aftermath of Impressionism', pg. 146-180, South Melbourne, 1979, 152 (illus.), 154. plate no. 56
Unknown, Thirty years of an artist's life : the career of G.W. Lambert, A.R.A, Sydney, 1977, 54, 55.
Unknown, In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 1995, 85 (colour illus.).
Unknown (Editor), Art and Artifice: George Lambert (1873-1930), 1996.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 'George Lambert. Purchases of His Works', Sydney, 23 Sep 1930, 4.
Unknown (Editor), The Home: an Australian quarterly, Sydney, Sep 1930, back cover (colour illus.). cover design by the late G.W. Lambert, A.R.A., front cover shows the work 'Head of a girl' also by Lambert.
Unknown, Transformations in Australian art: The nineteenth century - landscape, colony and nation [Volume One], 'Landscape with feeling: Golden summers and modern life', pg. 107-123, St Leonards, 2002, 119.
The Sydney morning herald, 'Society of Artists: the Spring exhibition', pg. 6, Sydney, 09 Sep 1921, 6.
Bulletin, Sydney, 01 Sep 1921, page unknown.
Table talk, Melbourne, 15 Apr 1921, page unknown.
Unknown, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2005, Sydney, 2005, 18.