St Petersburg, Russia 1873 – Cobbity, New South Wales, Australia 1930

  • Australia 1887-1900
  • France and England 1900-21
  • Australia from 1921

A garden bunch [A Garden Bunch; An arrangement of Old English Cottage Flowers; Flower Piece Number 10 or Flowerpiece] 1916 Place made: Cranleigh, Surrey, England
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on wood panel

Primary Insc: signed and dated l.r., oil "G.W.Lambert 1916"
Dimensions: 53.0 h x 35.2 w cm Frame 764 h x 586 w x 40 d mm
Cat Raisonné: Gray(1996),P204
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1978
Accession No: NGA 78.1
  • Purchased by the Australian National Gallery, from Theodore Bruce and Company, Adelaide, 1978.
  • 62

    In the summer of 1916, while staying at Sir Edmund Davis's cottage at Cranleigh, Surrey, while his son Constant was ill, Lambert would take walks in the nearby countryside and bring home large bunches of English cottage flowers, which he then set down to paint. In this flower piece he depicted convolvulus, delphinium, fuchsia, love in the mist, lupin, pink and white roses, and snapdragon arranged in a glass vase.

    Lambert painted the work with careful consideration of detail, minutely studying every flower in this tightly composed painting. The image is animated by a sense of movement that comes from the flowers themselves: the bends and twists of the stalks, petals and leaves. He captured the subtle differences in the textures of the flowers and the contrast between the sharpness of the glass vase and the softness of the blooms, set off against the neutral background.

    It is possible to give added meaning to this garden bunch by noting the gamut of attitudes and emotions the flowers can be said to represent: convolvulus stands for perseverance; delphinium for lightness and levity; fuchsia for taste; love in the mist for perplexity; lupin for imagination; pink rose for grace and happiness and white rose for purity; snapdragon for presumption. However, given the circumstances in which Lambert painted this bunch, it may well be that the only meaning he intended it to have was a visual delight.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra