An image of Julian Ashton

George W Lambert

(Russia, Australia 1873 – 1930)

Julian Ashton

Not on display
Further information

Born in St Petersburg, Russia, George Lambert arrived in Australia in 1887. After studying at Julian Ashton's art school in Sydney 1896-1900, he won the first New South Wales Travelling Art Scholarship and lived and worked in England and Europe for the next two decades, before returning to Australia in 1921. Best remembered for his portraits and figure compositions and for his work as an official war artist during World War I, Lambert initially established himself as a illustrator for periodicals such as 'The bulletin' and 'Australian magazine'. The Gallery has over 100 paintings and drawings by Lambert, including his popular early masterpiece 'Across the black soil plains' 1899.

Julian Ashton, the subject of this drawing, was one of the most influential painters and teachers of art in New South Wales, from shortly after his arrival in Australia in 1878 to the time of his death. Lambert was Ashton's favourite student, and Lambert drew and painted him several times, including a portrait in the AGNSW, dated 1928, in which Ashton is shown comfortably seated, with a cigar and the symbols of his vocation - red backcloth and an ornate gold-leafed picture frame - behind him. A trustee of the Gallery from 1889 to 1899, Ashton was responsible for the establishment of the Gallery's pioneering fund for the purchase of work by Australian artists. In his appreciation of Lambert in 'The art of George W Lambert ARA' (1924), Ashton wrote of the Gallery's drawing:

'... he did several drawings of me engaged in teaching, of which I was quite unaware, until I came upon them many years afterwards. There is a remarkably good one in the possession of Dr Davidson - a pencil drawing, profile, both hands in the pockets of a Norfolk jacket and pipe in mouth. There was no room for the feet on the paper, so he has drawn them carefully in the opposite corner.'

Lambert was 23 when he made this drawing, in Julian Ashton's studio at Vickery's Chambers, Pitt Street, Sydney, where the Art Society also held its classes.

excerpt from Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, '19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels in the Gallery's collection', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2005

Place of origin
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
23.5 x 15.5 cm sheet
Signature & date

Signed l.l. "G.W./ LAMberT". Not dated.

Purchased 1955
Accession number