In this delightful sketch one is immediately and intentionally reminded of Manet's Absinthe Drinker, 1858-59 (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen). The top hat, the placement of both the absinthe glass and an object bottom left on the floor, along with the sitter's turned-over foot all contribute to the reference. This could well be a self-portrait, and although not Orpen's usual drink, its stupifying and hallucinatory effects would have been well known to Orpen, through the first-hand experience of Charles Conder - hence the somewhat vacant expression that is typical of so many of the works of this subject. According to Augustus John (Chiaroscuro, London, 1952, p. 80), Orpen first encountered the infamous 'Pernod', the 'Muse of Painters', albeit modified with anisette, with Augustus John, courtesy of Charles Conder at the Café Royal, probably about 1899, and this sketch may possibly date to about this time.
This work will be included in the catalogue raisonné currently being prepared by Christopher Pearson of the Orpen Research Project.