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 | Still life - camellias

Russia 1873 – Australia 1930
Australia 1887-1900; England 1900-01; France 1901-02; England 1902-21; Australia from 1921
Still life - camellias
oil on canvas
79.5 (h) x 64.4 (w) cm
dated and signed '1917. G.W.LAMBERT' lower right
private collection
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The pink and red camellias – winter flowers – look freshly picked and perfectly formed, and are arranged with an apparent naturalness in their blue-and-white ceramic bowl. This seems to be a conventional and fastidiously crafted flower piece, and yet the viewpoint, looking down on the tilted table, has a modern aspect. Similarly, in a more contemporary fashion we view the bowl in profile but are also allowed to look down into it.

Lambert approached still-life painting as a way to experiment with composition and a semi-abstract arrangement of forms. He painted with assurance, rendering the flowers with crisp and realistic detail, while painting the tablecloth and patterned cloth background with more expressive strokes built up of ‘little planes’. Here, he used brighter colours and a bolder arrangement than he had in his flower pieces painted in 1916, such as A garden bunch (cat.62).

The camellia is a Japanese flower, where it is a symbol of long life, good luck and good relationships. The red camellia is the symbol of humble beauty.

This painting was purchased privately, by Percy Reed, when exhibited in London at the New English Art Club’s summer exhibition of 1917 and has remained in private ownership.

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