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 letters

Russia 1873 – Australia 1930
Australia 1887-1900; England 1900-01; France 1901-02; England 1902-21; Australia from 1921
The letters 1901
pencil, pen and black ink
31.4 (h) x 26.2 (w) cm
signed 'G.W.Lambert' lower right dated and inscribed '1901/ Paris' lower right
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, purchased in 1987 Sydney photograph: Jenni Carter
VIEW: Article |

When published, this pen-and-ink drawing was used as an illustration to T.T.’s poem ‘The letters’, which describes two separated lovers.

He Writes:

What on earth’s the good of kisses – Inky kisses in a letter? Does a cross supply your wishes? Don’t you wish for something better?

Where on earth’s the satisfaction – (And enclosed herein I send it) In the sign without the action? Really, I can’t comprehend it!

She Replies:

This on earth’s the good of kisses – Kisses scribbled with a ‘J’ pen. That I know my darling misses – Misses me a little then!

Here on earth is the attraction – ’Missing kisses, misses me.’ There’s the answer in a fraction To your question, can’t you see?

Lambert made this drawing in Paris in 1901, but it was not published until some years later, in Sydney. Although it was eventually published in the Lone Hand , an illustrated monthly first issued in July 1907, Lambert was probably commissioned to make the drawing for the Bulletin in 1901, and they would have then passed it on to the Lone Hand . This magazine was created by the Bulletin ’s founder, J.F. Archibald, and also promoted Australian writers and writing.

With its decorative frame, sleeping cupid, and balanced composition, this is a more sophisticated drawing than many of the pen-and-ink illustrations published in the Bulletin , including those by Lambert.

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