Lambert drew this figure in rough outline as a study for the central standing figure (Henry Lawson) in his Henry Lawson memorial sculpture (cat.121). As with his study Old man with pipe (cat.103), Lambert’s interest was with capturing the overall pose of the man. He did not sign this work.
Lambert worked on his designs for this sculpture after Lawson had died, from photographs and memories of the writer. He used models to pose for the figures. In his pose for Lawson, Lambert wanted to show him making the gesture he often did when he was searching for a thought.
Lambert may well have also referred to prototypes from the history of art (as with so many of his works). As Daniel Thomas has suggested, Lambert’s loose-kneed, gesturing figure hints at an over-relaxed condition (as a result of inebriation), in a pose resembling that of Michelangelo’s ‘unclassically tipsy’ marble sculpture Bacchus 1497 (Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence; Thomas, pp.13–14). Like Michelangelo, Lambert gave his figure a high centre of gravity.