In March 1918 Lambert visited the battle grounds of Romani, east of the Suez Canal on the Sinai Coast, where Allied forces in August 1916 had defeated a Turkish assault on their defenses at the Egyptian town of Romani. There he painted this watercolour of Katib Gannit.
Lambert made a number of watercolours while working in Palestine, Egypt and Gallipoli, most likely because it was a medium that was easy to carry from place to place and to use outdoors. Here, as in a number of his war watercolours, Lambert used the medium as a tinted drawing, sketching in the outlines of his scene in pencil to emphasise the forms, and then building up the details of the scene in watercolour. To capture the glaring heat of the desert he used a thin translucent wash in the sky. He also used the medium to advantage to capture the transparency of the shadows and the palpitating atmosphere.
Lambert remarked to William Moore that the heat in Palestine ‘was a supreme test even for the Australians’. He observed that the heat was ‘indescribable – unendurable. Even if I had been inclined to slack myself the example of men who never tired forced me to be up early and paint and draw all day’ (Moore, vol. 2, p.62).