Abandoning his medical studies in his home-town of Manchester to become an artist, in 1905 Lamb moved to London where he studied under Augustus John and William Orpen at their short-lived Chelsea Art School. A highly gifted draughtsman he soon moved to Paris, and painted in Brittany. On his return to London he made his name with an extraordinary full-life sized portrait of his friend, the writer Lytton Strachey (now in the Tate). He joined the Fitzroy Street Group, was a member of Camden Town Group, and a founder member of London Group. Serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War he became an official war artist, and painted one of the scheme’s best works, Irish Troops in the Judaean Hills Surprised by a Turkish Bombardment (1919). However, he never fully recovered from his war experiences. He was elected RA in 1940.
This painting came from the estate of Lady Pansy Pakenham, eldest daughter of the fifth earl of Longford, who married the artist in 1928. Interest in Lamb’s work has revived in recent years, and he has been the subject of recent exhibitions at Salisbury Museum, in Wiltshire, and Poole Museum, in Dorset, where he resided for a number of years after the First World War.