Lambert and Hugh Ramsay lived near to each other in studios in the Boulevard Saint-Jacques in the Latin Quarter of Paris, south of the Seine. Their studios were little more than a combined sitting room, bedroom and studio, with a fuel stove in one corner to cook their meals and to heat the room. Ramsay passed many evenings in the Lamberts’ apartment where Lambert’s wife, Amy, happily provided Ramsay with home-cooked dinners and darned his socks. Lambert probably made this drawing in Ramsay’s studio, as the chest of drawers and sculpted mask behind the figure in this drawing also appear in Ramsay’s self-portrait, Portrait of artist standing before easel c.1901 (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne).
In 1905 Lambert used this drawing as the basis for a Bulletin illustration. In the Bulletin drawing, he gave the man a beard and included a woman standing behind the man with her hands on his shoulders. It was an illustration to Will Ogilvie’s poem,
‘A Christmas gift’:
A pendant of opal or pearl,
A bangle, a locket, a fan,
The things that are dear to the heart
of a girl
That occur to the mind of a man, -
These are gifts for the friends that are nearest,
But crowned with the rose and the rue,
And worn with memory’s dearest,
I have only some verses for you!
You loved what I wrote as a lover,
You loved it because it was mine,
And many a fault was passed over
For the heart-beat that hid in the line.
’Twas for YOU I attempted the greatest -
For YOU turned the best and the worst,
And for YOU I have fashioned the latest
Whose love bade me fashion the first!