We're now in to the last week of our Edward Bawden exhibition. It has been really well received by the press and public alike and we are very grateful to all those who have supported the exhibition and come along to film screenings, lectures and workshops. There's been a real buzz around the place while this show has been on, and that has been helped by the popularity of the specially commissioned Mark Hearld print and the addition of works from the St. Judes Gallery artists and the fantastic cards, notebooks and gifts that rush out of the new shop as soon as we get them in! Overall, this show has really established Bedford Gallery (which only a year ago was still largely a building site) as a top class exhibition space, which is a great thing for Bedford as a whole.
This week's picture of the week is an incredibly charming drawing by the Irish portraitist and war artist, William Orpen. KP
Sir WILLIAM ORPEN, R.A.
Portrait of a Girl
pencil on paper, 28.1 × 20.6 cm
inscribed on reverse: W.ORPEN
Orpen was born in Ireland and studied at the Metropolitan School of Art, Dublin, before going to the Slade from 1897-9 where his brilliance rivaled that of Augustus JOHN, winning the Slade prize for Play Scene with Hamlet. He debuted at the N.E.A.C. with a portrait of John in 1900.
From 1917-19 he was an official war artist, attending the Peace Conference in Paris as official painter. He was known mainly for his portraits and portrait groups and in the 1920s was referred to as ‘England’s most popular painter’. Orpen was knighted in 1918 and elected R.A. in 1919.
It has been suggested that this portrays Mary, Orpen’s eldest daughter, born in 1902. Known in the family as Bunny, she appears as a child in a number of Orpen’s paintings and drawings.
PROVENANCE: Professor Isaacs, from whom purchased by Gallery, January 1960.
EXHIBITIONS: Watercolours and Drawings from The Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford, London, Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd, 1962, no.67.
NOTES: Sheet taken from a sketchbook.