Henry Lamb

In Arcadia


16 February – 18 March 2022

Register interest


Henry Lamb was born in Adelaide, Australia in 1883 shortly before his father moved the family to Manchester having taken a post in the Mathematics department of Manchester University. He grew up in Manchester as one of seven children to Professor Horace Lamb and his wife, Mary. He first studied medicine before abandoning his studies to be an artist. Aged twenty two he left for London to study under Augustus John and William Orpen at their short-lived Chelsea Art School.

John was particularly formative in those early years and it was with John that Lamb moved to Paris a few years later. While living in Paris Lamb spent a couple of summers on the South coast of Brittany, where he painted the extraordinary, devastating ‘Death of a Peasant’. Lamb had followed a long line of artists travelling from Paris to Brittany in search of a more traditional way of life that was seen as visible here long after it had disappeared elsewhere. It was with this view that Lamb travelled to Gola Island in Northern Ireland a couple of years later. Once back in London Lamb joined the Fitzroy group and was a founding member of both The Camden Town Group and The London Group. He had arrived in London in 1905 with Nina Forrest, nicknamed Euphemia, who became a infamous figure in the Bloomsbury Group. They married in 1906 but separated shortly after. He was friendly with the Bloomsbury group having known Vanessa Stephen and Clive Bell from his early days in the city, but he often had little patience with the group and could be quite disdainful. The eminent critic and biographer Lytton Strachey was however a good friend and between 1912 and 1914 sat for a portrait that would become one of Lamb’s greatest works. It now resides in the Tate and was described by Sir John Rothenstein as “one of the best portraits painted in England in this century”.