Sir William Orpen
Anita 1905

Artwork details

Sir William Orpen 1878–1931
Date 1905
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 760 x 557 mm
Acquisition Purchased 1996
Not on display

Display caption

Anita Bartle, the sitter in this early portrait by Orpen, was a journalist and author in Dublin. At the time he painted it, Orpen had just returned from a visit to the Prado in Madrid, where he had studied portrait sketches by Rubens. His training at the Slade in the 1890s had been in drawing rather than painting. He wanted to try a modern version of Rubens's direct technique, and used this portrait of a friend as an exercise. Orpen uses only red, with black and white, and leaves visible the brushstrokes, in the manner of an oil sketch. He later gave the portrait to the sitter as a wedding present.

September 2004

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