DETAIL : George LAMBERT  Russia 1873 � Australia 1930  'Chesham Street' [Chesney Street; The Doctor; Harley Street] 1910  oil on canvas National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased in 1993 DETAIL : George LAMBERT  Russia 1873 � Australia 1930  'The convex mirror' c.1916  oil with pencil on wood panel private collection
George LAMBERT | Camel, Abbassia, full marching order

Russia 1873 – Australia 1930
Australia 1887-1900; England 1900-01; France 1901-02; England 1902-21; Australia from 1921
Camel, Abbassia, full marching order 2 April 1918
pencil and watercolour with gouache
25.4 (h) x 35.6 (w) cm
signed and dated 'G.W.LAMBERT April 2nd 1918.' lower left
Australian War Memorial, Canberra, acquired under the official war art scheme in 1918
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In April 1918, Lambert was in Cairo, where he remained for about a month, living at the National Hotel. While there he spent several days with the Imperial Camel Corps at Abbassia, on the outskirts of the city, where the Allied soldiers were trained to ride and handle camels and where Lambert made studies of the camels and their gear.

Lambert depicted this camel resting and hobbled at the left elbow, with official saddlery including a fantass holding ten gallons (fifty litres) of water.

Lambert did not often paint in watercolour, but he made a number of works in this medium while employed as an official war artist, presumably because it was one that was easy to transport and to work with in the open air. In this work Lambert created a vivid image, emphasising the animal’s elegant and compact form in a recumbent position. He demonstrated that he had great command over his materials.

In a talk to the Chelsea Arts Club later that year Lambert observed that the camel:

is beautiful to draw and paint but he is an animal one cannot love. Never attempt to caress a camel. If he should try to caress you, and he will if you are not watchful, hit him with anything that is handy and heavy, the butt of the rifle, an army boot, hobnailed, or the Colonel’s best armchair. Hit him on the jaw and hit hard.

Despite this, Lambert acknowledged the value of the camel ‘as one of the important, if not the most important, factors in winning the Palestine campaign’ (ML MSS 97/4, item 4).

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