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Australian art

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Julian Ashton



George W Lambert

Russia, Australia

1873 - 1930


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


Place where the work was made

Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used



23.5 x 15.5 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed l.l. "G.W./ LAMberT". Not dated.


Purchased 1955


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

George W Lambert

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 8 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 11 publications


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. 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. 33

B.J. Waterhouse private collection, Sydney, 1955. 67

George Lambert, 1873-1930: drawings, Sydney, 1993, 23, 13 (illus.). 4

George Lambert (1873-1930) catalogue raisonné: paintings and sculpture, drawings in public collections, Perth, 1996, 143 (illus.). D7

Art and Artifice: George Lambert (1873-1930), 1996, 13 (illus.).

The Julian Ashton book, Sydney, 1920. plate no. 16