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Sir William Orpen, 1878 - 1931. Artist (Self-portrait)

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Sir William Orpen, 1878 - 1931. Artist (Self-portrait) About 1895

Not on display

This ink drawing is an early self-portrait by Irish artist William Orpen. Though undated, it was probably made during his student years. Orpen displayed an interest in painting from an early age. Encouraged by his mother but not his father, who wanted him to join the family law firm, he enrolled at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin aged only thirteen. His talent was noticed, and during his time at the school Orpen won many prizes and honours. In 1897 he moved to the Slade School of Fine Art in London. After working as an official war artist in 1917, Orpen had a successful career as a fashionable portrait painter. He also painted a number of realistic self-portraits. They are often searching and dramatic, with complex arrangements of space and light.

Glossary Open

Slade School of Fine Art

Part of University College, London, this art college was founded in 1871 with funds from the art collector Felix Slade. Notable students include Augustus and Gwen John, Percy Wyndham Lewis, Stanley Spencer and Ben Nicholson.

Slade School of Fine Art


  • Acc. No. PG 1447
  • Medium Ink on paper
  • Size 27.60 x 20.10 cm
  • Credit Bequeathed by Kenneth Sanderson 1944