George Washington Lambert

George Washington Lambert, “The Half-Back (Maurice Lambert)”, 1920, Oil on Canvas, 76.2 x 61 cm, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Although “The Half-Back (Maurice Lambert)” is a portrait of an individual, Australian painter George Lambert intended it to be seen as a general type of portrait, and thus gave it a generalized name. He originally exhibited it as “Young Man in a White Sweater” in 1920 at  London and, in the following year, at the Pittsburgh International. He later gave this portrait of his son Maurice, then an eighteen-year old sculpture student, a more athletic title, “The Half-Back”.

Lambert presented his son with a sensuous and powerful presence, typical of a matinee idol. This resulted from Lambert’s depiction of the sultry eyes, the dark brushed-back hair, the pouting expression of the mouth, and the subject’s white sweater, with the raised collar’s emphasis on the nape of the neck. Silhouetted against a plain blue background, the subject’s head and torso, composed of thin layers of paint to create a flat, matte surface,  are the focus of the painting.

Born in Paris in 1901, Maurice Lambert was the eldest of two children of George Lambert and Amelia Absell; the other child was a daughter Constant, born in 1905, who became a composer and conductor. Maurice Lambert studied sculpture under Derwent Wood at London’s  Royal Academy and also attended Chelsea Polytechnic. He is known mostly for his public sculptures. 

Considered one of the new group of British sculptors, Maurice Lambert’s  work in the late 1920s and 1930s was radical in his experimental use of materials. The wide range of his materials was evident in his 1929 “New Sculpture” exhibition, where he showed work made from African hardwood, alabaster, Portland stone, marble and metal. At the time his father painted this portrait, Maurice Lambert was still studying sculpture at the Royal College and was, also. working with his father at his studio as a model and painting assistant. 

Originally “The Half-Back” was in the collection of Australian painter Hans Heysen, known for his watercolors of monumental Australian gum trees, and images of men and animals in the Australian bush. It was purchased in 1958 by Adelaide’s Art Gallery of South Australia through a South Australian Government Grant. 

Biographical information on the life of George Lambert can be found at:

George Washington Lambert

George Washington Lambert, “The White Glove”, 1921, Oil on Canvas, 106 x 78 cm, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Born in September of 1873 in St. Petersburg, Russia, George Washington Thomas Lambert was an Australian portrait artist and a war artist during the First World War. After the death of his father, he and his English mother moved to Württemberg, Germany, to stay with Lambert’s maternal grandfather. Lambert received his education at Kingston College in Somerset, England, after which the family emigrated to Australia, arriving in Sydney in January of 1887.

In 1894, George Lambert began exhibiting his work at the Art Society and the Society of Artists in Sydney. After drawing pen and ink cartoons for a year at The Bulletin magazine, he began painting full time in 1896. Lambert won the Wynne Prize for his 1899 painting “Across the Blacksoil Plains”, a depiction of a heavily laden wagon pulled by a team of draft horses. 

Lambert studied at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney until 1900, after which he won a government traveling scholarship from New South Wales. He spent a few years traveling, first to Paris, and later to London where he exhibited work at the Royal Academy. At an exhibition in Barcelona in 1911, Lambert won a silver medal for his painting “The Sonnet”.

During the years of the First World War, George Lambert served as an official war artist. His painting “Anzac”, depicting the 1915 landings of forces on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, is now in the Australian War Memorial collection located in Australia’s capital Canberra. In 1920, Lambert painted another notable work “A Sergeant of the Light Horse”, which he executed in London after retuning from Palestine.

Returning to Australia in 1921, Lambert had a successful solo show in Melbourne at the Fine Art Society. This was the year he painted “The White Glove”, a oil portrait depicting Miss Gladys Neville Collins, the daughter of lawyer J. T. Collins, trustee of the Public Library, Museums, and National Gallery of Victoria. 

George Lambert posed Miss Collins in a manner suggestive of John Singer Sargent’s 1905 work “Portrait of Ena Wertheimer, ‘a vele gonfie”, with its black white-feathered hat and hand raised in front of chest. Miss Collins’s tilted head, half closed eyes, half open mouth, and almost bare right arm suggests individual sensuality, but also a form of codified behavior. Significantly different from the in-vogue contemporary brown-toned portraits, George Lambert, himself, described it as a wild, dashing portrait. 

In 1922, the Art Gallery of New South Wales acquired the painting for six hundred guineas ( $53,000 in 2019),  at the time the highest price paid by a public gallery for a portrait by an Australian artist. The work remains a part of its collection.

Gottfried Lindauer

Gottfried Lindauer, “Kamariera Te Hau Takiri Wharepapa”, 1895, Oil on Canvas, Auckland Art Gallery,

Gottfried Lindauer, a portrait artist, was born in Pilsen, Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire,  who relocated to New Zealand. Lindauer’s portraits of Māori are diverse in their subjects and in how he depicted them. They can be presented full-length, half-length or in bust format for instance; frontal, body in profile or face to the front, as in his many portraits of Ana Rupene and her baby. Besides his portraits of eminent Māori, Lindauer produced many of little-known or ordinary Māori people, most of whom wear European dress, as would have been the case in their daily life.

Kamariera Wharepapa, born in 1823, was one of fourteen Māori who travelled to England aboard the ship Ida Ziegler under the sponsorship of Wesleyan missionary William Jenkins. While in England he was presented to Queen Victoria and married Elizabeth Reid, an English housemaid. The first of their five daughters was born on the return journey to New Zealand and the family settled in Maungakahia. There, in 1864, Elizabeth helped her husband lobby for a school, which was eventually built. Wharepapa died in 1920 at his birthplace Mangakahia.