Sir William Orpen

The Mirror

1900

On display at Tate Britain

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 508 x 406 mm
frame: 682 x 580 x 75 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Mrs Coutts Michie through the Art Fund in memory of the George McCulloch Collection 1913
Reference
N02940

Display caption

The sitter in this portrait is Emily Scobel, a model from the Slade School of Art. Orpen was briefly engaged to her. The room is apparently an accurate portrayal of Orpen’s lodgings, but the shallow pictorial depth and decorative, or ‘aesthetic,’ arrangement of objects is based on Whistler’s famous portrait of his mother in profile. The concave mirror on the wall reflects the artist painting at his easel. This is a device which Orpen borrowed from a 15th-century painting by Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, which he would have seen on display at the National Gallery.

Gallery label, February 2016

Catalogue entry

N02940 THE MIRROR 1900

Inscr. ‘W Orpen 1900’ b.r.
Canvas, 20×16 (51×40·5).

Presented by Mrs Coutts Michie through the National Art-Collections Fund in memory of the George McCulloch Collection 1913.
Coll: George McCulloch, sold Christie's, 29 May 1913 (181), bt. Wallis; Mrs Coutts Michie.
Exh: N.E.A.C., winter 1900 (50); George McCulloch Collection, R.A., winter 1909 (270); R.A., Late Members, winter 1933 (34); Birmingham, March–April 1933 (2).
Lit: Konody and Dark, 1932, pp.141–2 and 265, repr. pl.29; John Rothenstein, Modern English Painters: Sickert to Smith, 1952, pp.217–18.
Repr: N.A.C.F. Report 1913, 1914, facing p.54; Pickle, 1923, pl.3.

The model is Emily Scobel. The artist and another figure are reflected in the mirror.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II

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