George W. LAMBERT, Michelago landscape Enlarge 1 /1


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

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

Michelago landscape [Michelago landscape (No.1)] 1923 Place made: Michelago, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on wood panel

Primary Insc: signed and dated ' G.W. LAMBERT. A.R.A / 1923 ' lower left
Dimensions: 33.5 h x 42.5 w cm
Acknowledgement: Gift of Philip Bacon AM 2007
Accession No: NGA 2007.644
  • Collection of Phillip Bacon, Brisbane.
  • Gift to the National Gallery of Australia, from Phillip Bacon AM, Brisbane, 2007.

George Lambert (1873–1930) was one of Australia’s most brilliant, witty and fascinating artists, acclaimed for his versatility in different media. His paintings are arresting, with an inner tension and sculptural quality. He made his mark as a portrait painter, draughtsmen, war artist, landscape painter and sculptor. He gained an international reputation and is the only Australian painter to be elected an Associate of the Royal Academy.

Michelago landscape shows one of Lambert’s favourite places, where he painted several landscapes, including the National Gallery of Australia’s iconic painting The squatter’s daughter 1923–24. He probably painted this work outdoors. The cloudy sky suggests impending rain.

Lambert met Major General Sir Granville Ryrie in 1918, while serving as an official war artist in Palestine during the First World War. Following his return to Australia in 1921 he first visited the Ryrie property, Micalago, at Michelago on the outskirts of Canberra in 1923 and became a regular visitor over the following years.

In this landscape Lambert depicted the gentle undulating country and the crisp, clear light of the area. He focused on form and pattern, emphasising the rhythmical sweep of the rolling hills and valleys and the pattern of the vegetation dotting the middle distance. He described the Michelago landscape in a poem.

The sun is down and ‘Micalago’ is at rest
Like Chinese silk of faded gold, the grass and all the hills like breasts of turtle-doves …
my soul could find a home ‘midst blades of grass
And get its music from the whispering trees …
These pleasant little hills that lure us on
To ride and ride until we reach beyond.

We are grateful to Philip Bacon for giving this work to the Gallery. It is a fine companion piece to the The squatter’s daughter, and a serene image of the Canberra region.

Anne Gray
Head of Australian Art
in artonview, issue 53, autumn 2008

in artonview, issue 53, autumn 2008