George Lambert (1873–1930) was one of Australia’s most brilliant, witty and influential artists. The exhibtion George Lambert retrospective: heroes and icons is the most comprehensive showing of Lambert’s work for over fifty years. It will present the diverse range of Lambert’s work from his Australian bush subjects to his Edwardian portraits and figure groups, from his sparkling oil sketches to his major battle paintings and large sculpture. It will show the full breadth of Lambert’s approaches to image making and the variety of his handling of pencil, pen and paint. It will demonstrate his sure draughtsmanship and the seductive glamour and sensual appeal of his paint surfaces.
I know for myself that which is easy is not worth doing, and that nothing matters to an artist but the fulfilment of his gift.
Approach nature with a simple palette but an extravagant love of form.
Some found Lambert’s flamboyance appealing, while others objected to it or sought to explain it away as if it were something disagreeable – frivolous and effete, a divergence from the typical easygoing, hardy, resolute Australian. Some suggested that Lambert’s posing was a shield against his sensitive nature, and others maintained he had two personalities, one for his friends (gentle, kindly and sympathetic) and another for his acquaintances and the public (brilliant, witty and flamboyant).His wife, Amy, agreed that Lambert’s theatricality and love of laughter was a mask behind which he hid his sadness.
Lambert was a versatile artist, with great audacity and considerable finesse, a more broad-ranging artist than any other in Australia at this time. George Lambert retrospective is the result of generous inter-gallery cooperation. It will selectively draw together around 110 works by Lambert that are scattered throughout major art museums and collections in Australia, as well as private collections in Britain. It will present us with the opportunity to look at the full scope of his work, including three of Lambert’s large-scale battle paintings, kindly lent by the Australian War Memorial, and viewed for the first time in many years alongside other icons such as The squatter’s daughter and A sergeant of Light Horse in Palestine.