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  • Posts Tagged ‘Sir William Orpen’


    Saturday, December 16th, 2017
    To mark the centenary of William Orpen’s visit to France as an official war artist the National Gallery of Ireland is exhibiting some of his war works.  Serving with the British Army he recorded the aftermath of the Battle of the Somme, a lifeless wasteland, the result of prolonged trench warfare, mining and heaving bombardment.

    In his 1921 memoir An Onlooker in France the artist wrote of the horror he had experienced. Drawing on this text the exhibition  explores a selection of his aftermath paintings.  The artist Garrett Phelan was commissioned by the National Gallery to produce art in response to Orpen’s experience and has created works in sound and clay acquired directly from the Somme. Aftermath, the War Landscapes of William Orpen, runs until February 11.

    Sir William Orpen – Sketch in a desolate landscape

    Sir William Orpen – Man with a cigarette

    Sir William Orpen – Thiepval II


    Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

    Sir William Orpen RA RI RHA (1878-1931) ON THE HILL OF HOWTH, COUNTY DUBLIN, c.1912-14  UPDATE: THIS MADE 30,000 AT HAMMER

    A re-discovered Orpen drawing of bhemian youth features at Whyte’s evening sale of Irish and International Art at the RDS on October 2. On the Hill of Howth, Co. Dublin c1912-14 depicts a girl holding a knot of tiny flowers and stretching her right arm skywards in an attitude of abandon. From the estate of Dublin judge Desmond Windle it is estimated at 30,000-50,000.  He was a collector for over 60 years and  among the other artists in his collection in this sale are Patrick Collins, John Behan, Michael Kane, Charles Brady, Charles Harper, George Campbell and Sean McSweeney. The catalogue, which is online, lists 188 lots. Here is a small selection:

    Hughie O’Donoghue (b.1953) DUTIFUL SON, 2007/8 (6,000-8,000)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 6,000 AT HAMMER

    Charles Brady HRHA (1926-1997) SHOE BOX (2,000-3,000)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 1,800 AT HAMMER

    John Behan RHA (b.1938) ARCHER (3,000-5,000)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 5,200

    Patrick Collins HRHA (1910-1994) THE HAPPY PRIEST, 1965 (15,000-20,000)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 14,000


    Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
    Sir William Orpen - Nude Girl Reading

    Sir William Orpen – Nude Girl Reading  UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    In a nod to the recovering Irish economy Sotheby’s will resume stand alone Irish art sales in London on October 21.  Highlighting that sale is  Nude Girl Reading by Sir William Orpen, described by Sotheby’s as one of his most sensational nudes.  Not on the market for 30 years, it is estimated at £300,000-500,000.  The work was painted in 1921 and the subject was Orpen’s lover Yvonne Aubicq, daughter of the mayor of Lille.  Their affair continued until 1928.

    In 1995 Sotheby’s was the first London auction house to hold sales of Irish art.  Arabella Bishop, Head of Sotheby’s Ireland, said: “Over the last couple of years, interest has increased and we have seen new collectors, not only from Ireland but internationally, actively buying and bidding in this field. We anticipate that the market for Irish art will continue to gather pace and feel that the moment is right to re-launch an annual dedicated sale. We are also thrilled to be opening our new 1,350 square-foot office in Dublin. This larger space, with excellent private viewing conditions, further cements our commitment to the Irish market.”

    In Dublin Sotheby’s will open new premises at 29 Molesworth Street on June 27, a move from the previous location at 16 Molesworth St.  Stand alone sales of Irish art have not been held at Sotheby’s since 2011.


    Monday, May 25th, 2015
    Sir William Orpen RA RI RHA (1878-1931) GLADYS COOPER SOLD FOR 175,000

    Sir William Orpen RA RI RHA (1878-1931) GLADYS COOPER SOLD FOR 175,000

    Sir William Orpen’s penetrating portrait of the English Academy Award nominated actress Gladys Cooper sold for a hammer price of 175,000 at Whyte’s in Dublin this evening. Painted in 1924 had been estimated at 80,000-120,000.

    Sir John Lavery RA RSA RHA (1856-1941) A BACCHANTE, 1910 sold for 135,000 at hammer.

    Sir John Lavery RA RSA RHA (1856-1941) A BACCHANTE, 1910 sold for 135,000 at hammer.

    This continues the trend established at the previous Whyte’s auction where many lots sold above the high estimate and where internet bidders competed from around the world for the best of Irish art.  After a prolonged period in the doldrums the market for the best of Irish art is once again on the rise.

    At the same sale Sir John Lavery’s A Bacchante sold for an above estimate hammer price of 135,000 at hammer. Painted in 1910 it had been estimated at 60,000-80,000.  It had been exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in London in that year as Mrs. Ralph Peto.

    Whyte’s md Ian Whyte said the sale:  “Produced the best results for us since 2008”.  The auction grossed just over one million euro and was 85% sold.  There was significant interest from outside Ireland and but Irish collectors and dealers were active too.  About 70% went to Irish clients.

    (See post on for May 15, 2015)


    Friday, May 15th, 2015
    Sir William Orpen RA RI RHA (1878-1931) GLADYS COOPER

    Sir William Orpen RA RI RHA (1878-1931) GLADYS COOPER  UPDATE: IT MADE 175,000 AT HAMMER

    Orpen’s 1924 portrait of three times Academy Award nominated actress Gladys Cooper (1888-1971) is the top lot at Whyte’s sale of Important Irish Art in Dublin on May 25.  Cooper sat for Orpen when both were at the height of their celebrity when she was rehearsing for the title role in J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan on the London stage.  The shadow against her right arm in the portrait is a nod to this role.

    Orpen selected this portrait for the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1926 and the Autumn Exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool the same year. The portrait is documented by both artist and sitter, in the former’s studio book and in the latter’s autobiography published in 1930.

    After starring roles in the West End and Broadway in the 1930’s Dame Gladys Cooper re-located to Hollywood in later life and found success in a variety of character roles. She starred in dramatic roles and silent films before the beginning of the First World War.  Cooper is best known now for her roles in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and as Mrs. Higgins in My Fair Lady (1964). This was her last role and it was one in which she was again nominated for an Academy Award.

    The portrait is estimated at 80,000-120,000.