Ada and Beatrice Beattie were the sisters of William Beattie, a musician, singer, actor and writer, and one of Lambert’s closest friends in Sydney at the turn of the century. Beattie was best man at Lambert’s wedding. He contributed to the Australian Magazine (1899) and wrote a tribute to Lambert in the Lambert memorial number of Art in Australia (Lambert 1930). Lambert drew this pencil portrait of Ada Beattie when she was lying in bed with the flu, while he discussed amateur theatricals with her.
Lambert’s remarkable ability as a draughtsman was recognised early on. In 1897 the Sydney Daily Telegraph critic remarked of one of Lambert’s pencil drawings that ‘Few men in Australia …
can do more with a pencil than he’ (Sayers 1989, p.126). In this drawing he used his pencil expressively to capture the cosy warmth of Ada Beattie’s wrap, contrasting these energetic lines with the brief outlines with which he hinted at the pillows and bedlinen. Likewise, he drew her hair using a dark pencil and her facial features with more subtle, delicate gestures. In this way
he gave interest and variety to the image.
Lambert showed this drawing, together with pencil portrait sketches of Beatrice Beattie and William Beattie, in the New South Wales Society of Artists exhibition in 1898. It was then purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.