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George W. Lambert was tall and slender with light reddish hair and a vandyke beard. He was an athletic man who had been a boxer in his youth and was good with horses. Lambert was also known for his lively sense of humour.
Like other artists, Lambert painted his own portrait because he was in need of a model and because he, the subject, was readily available. He also painted his own portrait because he could be freer with the way he portrayed himself than he could be with any other subject.
Lambert reflected his complex personality in his many self-portraits, in which he presented himself as an actor playing a role. His theatricality was a mask behind which he hid his melancholy. His extrovert behaviour (like the unlit pipe held tightly between his lips) was a shield against his sensitive nature.
Lambert married aspiring author, Amy Absell in Sydney on 4 September 1900. Amy was a tall, thin, beautiful and stylish young woman, with dark eyes, full lips and jet black hair.
Melbourne artist, Hugh Ramsay was Lambert’s closest friend in Paris. He was a cordial companion. For a time, Lambert looked to Ramsay as his mentor, studying his approach to paint. He believed Ramsay to be the only one among the Australian artists in Paris who was ‘using paint and not picking at the thing’.
Sydney artist, Thea Proctor, was a striking young woman, tall, stately and dignified, and always impeccably dressed in clothes she designed herself. In London, she shared many of the Lamberts’ Australian friends and introduced them to her own acquaintances.
Among the expatriate artists in London, Melbourne artist Arthur Streeton was probably Lambert’s closest friend and a ‘frequent and honoured visitor’ to his studio.
Robert Dessaix Lecture
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