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 Theodore Roosevelt Lambert  (1905 - 1960)

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Lived/Active: Alaska/Illinois      Known for: landscape-animal, genre, portrait

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A restless, adventurous and solitary person, Theodore Lambert is considered one of Alaska's most dedicated painters and is especially valued for the integrity of his realism and understanding of the wild, frontier aspects of the region. He was born in Zion, Illinois to a loving, supportive mother and overbearing father, and from childhood was rebellious. At age fourteen, he left home with a friend and ended up in Denver, Colorado. He returned home, worked briefly as a sign painter and engraver, and then by age seventeen, left permanently.

Penniless, he arrived in Alaska in 1925 or 1926 and took jobs as a miner, dog-sled postman, trapper, logger and book designer. Then he took a job with the Fairbanks Exploration Company as a roving artist and made enough money from this work to study at the American Academy of Art in Chicago in 1931. He later studied during one winter with Eustace Ziegler in Seattle.

Although he was itinerant and unsettled geographically, he was extremely focused as an artist and "imposed a merciless discipline on himself . . . going on long solitary painting trips to perfect his eye." (Zellman 915).

He attempted domesticity, marrying a young teacher and having a child. But she became alarmed with what she perceived as his paranoia and wild-animal behavior, and she took their baby daughter and left him. The subsequent divorce isolated him even more psychologically, and he moved to a cabin on the west coast of Alaska. In 1960, he disappeared mysteriously and left a 250,000 word manuscript and a stack of unfinished paintings. No trace of him was found.

Michael David Zellman, "300 Years of American Art"

Biography from Braarud Fine Art:
One of Alaska's most admired historical painters, Ted Lambert traveled more widely throughout Alaska than any other artist of his day, working for lengthy periods from McCarthy and Kennicott to Bethel, Lake Clark, and Alaska's North Slope. He spent almost twenty years in Fairbanks.

Born in Zion, Illinois, Lambert won a drawing contest at fifteen and was awarded a correspondence course in illustration. He ran away from home in high school more than once, and traveled to Yellowstone Park and Montana before finding passage to Cordova, Alaska in the spring of 1926.

At first a pupil, and later a friend, fellow traveler, and artistic collaborator with Eustace Ziegler, Lambert was also highly regarded by Sydney Laurence. Laurence told an Anchorage reporter in 1937 that Lambert was a great artist and might someday be Alaska's greatest painter. In addition to training with Ziegler, he later received formal instruction in Chicago.

A restless, willful, ultimately unhappy man, Lambert finally disappeared in the Levelock area of southwest Alaska in 1960 after years of increasing paranoia and desire to be left alone to paint without interference. But he lived in Alaska longer by far than either Laurence or Ziegler, some 34 years, and his work is widely admired for its expressive color and brushstroke, and for his obvious firsthand familiarity with the character of pioneer life.

Lambert's best work weds bold, aggressive, painterly brushstrokes with a deft representation of the particular details in a scene, strongly evoking the essence of both subject and locale.

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Notable Alaska

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