Walter Frederick Osborne

1859–1903

Biography

Walter Frederick Osborne (17 June 1859 – 24 April 1903) was an Irish impressionist and Post-Impressionism landscape and portrait painter, best known for his documentary depictions of late 19th century working class life. Most of his paintings are figurative and focus on women, children, the elderly, the poor, and the day-to-day life of ordinary people on Dublin streets, as well as series of rural scenes. He also produced city-scapes, which he painted from both sketches and photographs. A prolific artist, he produced oils, watercolours, and numerous pencil sketches.

Osborne's talent was evident as a young man and he traveled widely in his youth; studying at the Academie Royale des Beaux Arts in Antwerp. He became a member of the Royal Hibernian Academy after an early showing. Later, he spent time in rural England and Brittany, where he became acquainted with the style of the impressionists. Osborne produced works in oil, water-colour, pastel and pencil. His main source of income was portraiture, landscapes and depictions of animals, but he is today better known for his documentary depictions of Ireland's working class poor.

Osborne had an engaging, charismatic personality and was well thought of in a variety of social circles. He died from pneumonia at 43 years, before achieving his full potential. Today he is regarded as a major Irish artist.

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