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Sir William Orpen, R.H.A., R.A. (1878-1931)
Sir William Orpen, R.H.A., R.A. (1878-1931)

An illustrated Letter to his Wife, Grace

Details
Sir William Orpen, R.H.A., R.A. (1878-1931)
An illustrated Letter to his Wife, Grace
signed 'Billon' and inscribed 'School/My dearest wife/I am going to do/you a little series/of pictures illustrating/Johnnie's life in/London, Dublin I mean! This the/first is Johnnie/at the modern art/gallery taking/great interest/in works of/art - He is quite disgusted with me as I have taken/to the water-wag. I was really forced to do it as if not/Johnnie would have wanted me to go on all day/I just lent him a shilling occasionally - I think he's/getting sick of Dublin. He can't find as many/people to give him drinks here as in London/so is rather dry - if only I could get everybody to go on the water-wag. I think his brain would/give way - I'm delighted you are going out/to dinner what a nice little Party...'
pen and black ink, unframed
13 x 8 in. (33 x 20.3 cm.)
Provenance
The Artist's Family.

Lot Essay

'The reference to the Modern Art Gallery, would suggest a date after January 1908, when the Art Gallery first opened in Harcourt Street, Dublin, and certainly would be no later than 1914.

'Johnnie' is a reference to Johnnie Granger, a rather colourful character and friend of Orpen's, who was, if Orpen's account in the letter is to be believed, particularly fond of drink. According to Bruce Arnold (Orpen, Mirror to an Age, London, 1981, p.193) he was a Slade friend and helped Orpen out at the Chelsea Art School, by giving lectures, after Augustus John had effectively abandoned the project. It has also been suggested that he is the painter, painting the nude in Orpen's studio, in Orpen's canvas The Studio (Leeds City Art Gallery: 31/52)'.
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