Henry Lamb, Julian Asquith (1916–2011)

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)


Country House
Mells Manor
Julian Asquith (1916–2011)
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 45 cm, Overall height: 54 cm
Henry Lamb (1883-1960)
Catalogue Number


Julian Asquith, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Asquith (1916–2011) was the only son of Raymond Asquith (1878–1916), a barrister and eldest son of Herbert Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, who served as the British prime minister from 1908 until 1916, and his wife, Katharine Horner (1885–1976), the youngest daughter of Sir John and Lady Frances Horner. Following the death of his grandfather in 1927, Julian inherited the earldom along with Mells Manor. Lord Oxford went on to have a successful career in the British Colonial Service in Libya, Zanzibar and Saint Lucia. He was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Seychelles from 1962 to 1967 and the Commander of the British Indian Ocean Territory from 1965 to 1967. In 1964, he was made a KCMG. Lord Oxford also held the posts of Constitutional Commander of the Cayman Islands in 1971 and of the Turks and Caicos Islands from 1973 to 1974.

Henry Lamb was born in Adelaide but moved to England as a young child where he initially studied medicine before transferring to Chelsea School of Art, then run by William Orpen and Augustus John. Lamb was a founding member of the Camden Town Group and was later affiliated with the Bloomsbury set. Lamb’s acquaintance with the Mells circle was probably through his wife, Lady Pansy Pakenham, who, like Katharine Asquith, was a close friend of Evelyn Waugh. 

In the summer of 1938, Lamb travelled to Mells, where he painted the present portrait of Julian Asquith, known to his family as ‘Trim’. Asquith is painted in semi-profile, wearing a loose collared shirt in light blue, the influence of Orpen being evident in the broad brushstrokes and handling of paint. David Jones, who also visited Mells in July 1939, noted how Lamb was able to ‘paint with chaps in the room walking about and talking.’1

by Devon Cox


  1. David Jones to Julian Asquith, 3 August 1939, Mells Manor Archive, M/01/1475.


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