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 | The artist and the Geelong memorial figure (Self portrait)

Russia 1873 – Australia 1930
Australia 1887-1900; England 1900-01; France 1901-02; England 1902-21; Australia from 1921
The artist and the Geelong memorial figure (Self portrait) c.1924
oil on plywood
46.3 (h) x 29.1 (w) cm
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, purchased with funds from the Art Foundation of Tasmania 1985
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In The artist and the Geelong memorial figure Lambert returned to the traditional subject of the artist in his studio to construct a highly stylised composition. He portrayed himself dressed in singlet and trousers, seated to the left, and the monumental figure for the Geelong memorial on the right. The painting is based on formalist principles, using the large stretched canvas in the background to provide strong vertical and horizontal shapes. It is an essentially tonalist composition, painted rapidly in a range of browns and whites.

Towards the end of 1923 the Australian War Memorial had provided Lambert with rooms rent free at the Prince of Wales Military Hospital, Randwick, as a studio to complete the war paintings that had been commissioned from him. He slept on a small bed in this complex, which included an area for a painting studio, a sculpture studio and a kitchen. This studio enabled Lambert to take up sculpture seriously, by giving him the space he needed.

On 9 June 1923, the Old Geelong Grammarians Association offered Lambert a commission to create a sculpture to commemorate eighty-eight old boys of the school who had been killed during the First World War (ML MSS 97/7, items 22 and 23). He began working on the sculpture for Geelong Grammar soon after he moved to Randwick. The young nude warrior at the centre of the group, represented in this painting, embodied the timeless spirit of heroism. Here in the painting the grey sculpture looms over Lambert, like a menacing ghoul – suggesting that he was finding work on the sculpture overwhelming.

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