Lambert drew this remarkable pencil study of an unidentified Light Horse officer while he was a patient at the 14th Australian General Hospital in Abbassia. He emphasised the subject’s features with pencil outline and then built up his face with shading. He captured an image of a man physically at repose, but also seeming to be in a state of calm and at peace with himself.
In depicting this head in an unusual fashion – lying down – Lambert gave it an added interest. By showing the officer in close focus he created a sense of intimacy, looking at him with a greater intensity than we might usually experience with a stranger. As in so many of his oil portraits Lambert used his pencil not only to capture the structure of the face, but also to evoke the pulsating sense of life under the skin.
Lambert’s inscription ‘PENCIL PORTRAIT of L.H. Officer’ in formal capitals signifies that this is more than a sketch; it is a formal portrait, like those he made in pencil of society ladies and gentlemen in London.