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 | Old man with pipe

Russia 1873 – Australia 1930
Australia 1887-1900; England 1900-01; France 1901-02; England 1902-21; Australia from 1921
Old man with pipe 1926
36.5 (h) x 25.7 (w) cm
signed and dated 'GWLambert 1926./ ARA' lower centre
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, purchased in 1930 Sydney photograph: Chilin Gieng for AGNSW
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Old man with pipe is a study for the seated figure of the swagman in Lambert’s Henry Lawson memorial (cat.121). Although Lambert believed in ‘drawing for its own sake’ he did make a number of drawings which were sketches for paintings and sculpture, in which he worked out his ideas for major compositions such as this one.  This drawing may have been one of the pencil studies which Lambert submitted with his proposal for the commission of the sculpture in December 1926.

Lambert drew this figure in rough outline, building up detail in certain areas and leaving others incomplete. His concern was with capturing the posture and kinaesthesia of the man, carefully capturing the muscles in the arms and the way in which they rest on the legs. Although this is a study, it is also a fully signed presentation drawing.

Lambert’s musing figure is in a pose resembling that of Michelangelo’s prophet Jeremiah 1511 (Sistine Chapel, Rome), the tortured lamenter of the Old Testament who asked ‘O why was I born,’ and suggested that ‘Life is a bitter, bitter vale’.

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