Born in St Petersburg, Russia, George Lambert arrived in Australia in 1887. After studying at Julian Ashton's art school in Sydney 1896-1900, he won the first New South Wales Travelling Art Scholarship and lived and worked in England and Europe for the next two decades, before returning to Australia in 1921. Best remembered for his portraits and figure compositions and for his work as an official war artist during World War I, Lambert initially established himself as a illustrator for periodicals such as 'The bulletin' and 'Australian magazine'. The Gallery has over 100 paintings and drawings by Lambert, including his popular early masterpiece 'Across the black soil plains' 1899.
Julian Ashton, the subject of this drawing, was one of the most influential painters and teachers of art in New South Wales, from shortly after his arrival in Australia in 1878 to the time of his death. Lambert was Ashton's favourite student, and Lambert drew and painted him several times, including a portrait in the AGNSW, dated 1928, in which Ashton is shown comfortably seated, with a cigar and the symbols of his vocation - red backcloth and an ornate gold-leafed picture frame - behind him. A trustee of the Gallery from 1889 to 1899, Ashton was responsible for the establishment of the Gallery's pioneering fund for the purchase of work by Australian artists. In his appreciation of Lambert in 'The art of George W Lambert ARA' (1924), Ashton wrote of the Gallery's drawing:
'... he did several drawings of me engaged in teaching, of which I was quite unaware, until I came upon them many years afterwards. There is a remarkably good one in the possession of Dr Davidson - a pencil drawing, profile, both hands in the pockets of a Norfolk jacket and pipe in mouth. There was no room for the feet on the paper, so he has drawn them carefully in the opposite corner.'
Lambert was 23 when he made this drawing, in Julian Ashton's studio at Vickery's Chambers, Pitt Street, Sydney, where the Art Society also held its classes.
excerpt from Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, '19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels in the Gallery's collection', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2005
23.5 x 15.5 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.l. "G.W./ LAMberT". Not dated.
Not on display
Where the work was made
Shown in 8 exhibitions
Lambert Memorial Loan Exhibition, Vickery's Galleries, Sydney, 26 Nov 1930–12 Dec 1930
150 years of Australian art (1938), National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 Jan 1938–25 Apr 1938
The B.J. Waterhouse private collection at the Grosvenor Galleries, Grosvenor Gallery, Sydney, 14 Sep 1955–23 Sep 1955
Purchases and Acquisitions for 1955, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 09 Feb 1956–29 Feb 1956
"Teach them to see, Gibbons": a tribute to the Julian Ashton Art School (1990), S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks, 23 Aug 1990–09 Sep 1990
George Lambert, 1873-1930: drawings, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 20 Feb 1993–02 May 1993
Sydney studios, S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks, 14 Aug 2004–26 Sep 2004
19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Apr 2005–24 Jul 2005
Referenced in 11 publications
Julian Ashton, The Art of George W Lambert, Sydney, 1924, 20.
Now came still evening on, Sydney, 1941, opposite 30 (illus.).
Hendrik Kolenberg, 19th century Australian watercolours, drawing and pastels from the Gallery's collection, 'Introduction', pg. 6-16, Sydney, 2005, 10, 126, 127 (colour illus.).
150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. cat.no. 573
Purchases and acquisitions for 1959, Sydney, 1959, 12.
S.H. Ervin Gallery and Julian Ashton Art School, "Teach them to see, Gibbons": a tribute to the Julian Ashton Art School, Sydney, 1990. cat.no. 33
B.J. Waterhouse private collection, Sydney, 1955. cat.no. 67
Anne Gray and Hendrik Kolenberg, George Lambert, 1873-1930: drawings, Sydney, 1993, 23, 13 (illus.). cat.no. 4
George Lambert (1873-1930) catalogue raisonné: paintings and sculpture, drawings in public collections, Perth, 1996, 143 (illus.). cat.no. D7
Art and Artifice: George Lambert (1873-1930), 1996, 13 (illus.).
The Julian Ashton book, Sydney, 1920. plate no. 16