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 holiday group (The bathers)

Russia 1873 – Australia 1930
Australia 1887-1900; England 1900-01; France 1901-02; England 1902-21; Australia from 1921
The holiday group (The bathers) 1907
oil on canvas
90.7 (h) x 78.7 (w) cm
signed and dated 'G.W.LAMBERT 1907' lower left
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, gift of Mrs A. O. Barrett in 1938
VIEW: Article |

In The holiday group Lambert created an image of women taking exercise with children by the seaside, a picture of health and wellbeing. He depicted the three figures in parallel poses, stepping forward onto one leg and with the other behind them, rather like in a Greek frieze. He contrasted the dress of the two women: one wearing the loose clothing of the maternal feminist, and the other the more restrictive but fashionable high-necked blouse and waisted coat of a career woman. The model for the maternal feminist was Lambert’s wife Amy, for the career woman his friend Thea Proctor and for the two children his sons Maurice and Constant.

At the time, the women’s movement was encouraging women to exercise so they would have healthier bodies to assist them in childbearing. Lambert’s image of the maternal feminist with her children was in accord with these ideas.

Although London reviewers were sometimes critical of the portrayal of clothed and unclothed figures in the one composition they did not object to Lambert’s sensual portrayal of the naked boy in this image of a bathing excursion. The Observer critic P.G. Konody wrote on 20 January 1907:

his skill in stating the fleshiness and roundness of human limbs being given full scope by the two children, one of which is tripping and the other carried to the water’s edge. Perhaps the black of the mother’s dress is a little too heavy, but otherwise the out-door effect and breeziness of the sea air are as admirable as the forward movement of the figures.

Lambert exhibited this work at the Modern Society of Portrait Painters in 1907 and later at the Guild Hall, Melbourne, in 1910, at which time it was purchased by Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer.

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