Sir William Orpen's Self-Portrait  (Frontpage)  (Thumbnail Index)  (What's New)  (Refer This Site)

The Mirror

Orpen Pleading with Sargent
25 June, 1907
pen and black ink on writing paper

Lady Orpen
exhibited 1907

Bridgit - a picture of Miss Elvery

The Man from Aran

Mrs. Oscar Lewisohn

Portrait of Sir Robert Laird Borden

The Angler
c. 1912

Major-General Sir David Watson

Dead Germans in a Trench

Sir William Orpen  (1878-1931) Irish painter
The Cleveland Museum of Art
 Oil and collage on wood
 61 x 49.6cm
Inscription: Signed lower left (on check): "1st Oct. 12 / William Orpen" 
Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1988.11 
Location: Gallery 235A 
 Jpg: The Cleveland Museum of Art 

Sir William Orpen (1878-1931) born in Stillorgan, Co. Dublin he grew to a prominent position as a portrait artist of leading society figures pre-war and post-war London, as well as leading landscape painter. At a very young age he showed talent and entered the Dublin school of Art at the age of 11 and, at 17, the Slade school of Fine Art were he learned under Henry Tonks. Worked with Augustus John to establish a teaching studio for two years before returning to Dublin in 1902 to teach at the Dublin Metropolitan School.

He was a member of the New English Art Club and backed by John Singer Sargent was elected ARA in 1910 and then full member of the Royal Academy in 1919. During the war he contributed portraits for the benefit of the red cross. He entered the arm forces and was given the rank of Major and sent off to the front in France were he painted commanders such as Major-General Sir David Watson, but also painted such disturbing work as Dead Germans in a Trench. During the armistice he was asked to be the official artist at the Peace Conference at Versailles. For a commission of £ 2000 he was suppose to paint some forty odd dignitaries on a canvas in front of Versailles, but he became disgusted with the spectacle of politics with bloated personalities and instead painted a coffin with two near-dead, shell-shocked, crazed soldiers flanking as if to remind everyone what the war had cost. To say it caused a stink would be an understatement. He lost his fee and it had to be revised, the crazed soldiers painted out, before the Royal Academy would let it hang and be accepted by the Imperial War Museum.

Still, Orpen was knighted after the war for his services. He died in London at the early age of 53 in 1931. 



By:  Natasha Wallace
Copyright 1998-2004 all rights reserved
Created 4/17/2002
Updated 4/15/2004