Oil on Canvas
107 x 89 cm
Southampton Art Gallery
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg Pennsylvania, no.126 Carnegie International catalogue, 1934
The Infant was painted soon after the portrait of Pansy reading following the birth of their second daughter Felicia in 1933. It shows Pansy bathing Felicia, an intimate, familiar scene depicted on a grand scale. Pansy appears Madonna-like, holding the infant Felicia as she reaches towards a basin of water. It is a Madonna and Child in 1930’s England, manifesting in both her pose and the calm assurance and gentleness with which Pansy handles the baby. The composition itself is dynamic, following the structure of an inverted triangle. The shape formed of Felicia in Pansy’s arms repeats in the pointed lampshade, the basin and wicker seat of the chair giving great momentum as well as balance to the painting. The palette is similarly lively with turquoise, orange, primary yellow and pink. The colours bounce around the painting, reflecting and refracting off the different surfaces.
Abandoning his medical studies 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 Lytton Strachey (now in the Tate).