The dead tree

Born St. Petersburg, Russia 1873, arrived Australia 1887, died Cobbitty, New South Wales 1930


George Lambert migrated to Australia in 1887 with his mother and initially lived on his uncle’s sheep station at Eurobla, New South Wales. Lambert’s experience as a station-hand instilled in him a love of horses and an unsentimental appreciation of the harshness of the Australian landscape.

In Sydney he took evening classes at Julian Ashton’s school, and from 1894 began exhibiting with Sydney art societies. Across the black soil plains, Lambert’s depiction of horses hauling heavy wool wagons against an arid landscape, won the 1899 Wynne Prize. In 1900 he was the inaugural recipient of the New South Wales Travelling Art Scholarship which allowed him to travel to England and study in Paris. While in Europe he steadily built his reputation as an accomplished artist who specialised in portraiture. During World War I Lambert was appointed as an official war artist and recorded many scenes of Australian military activity in Palestine and later Gallipoli.

After returning to Australia in 1921, Lambert went on to form the Contemporary Group in 1926, and organised exhibitions which included fellow moderns Elioth Gruner, Roy de Maistre, Margaret Preston and Roland Wakelin. Lambert’s return to Australia also saw his renewed interest in painting landscapes. The dead tree (1926) is one such example, depicting a fallen tree in the foreground, bleached and bone-like, blocking the hills and trees in the distance.

Lambert’s work is held in the collections of all Australian state galleries, the Australian War Memorial, many regional galleries and overseas public collections.