Three works by Sir William Orpen are for sale at Whyte’s Irish & International Art Auction, 2nd October 2023 at 6pm. The Freemasons Hall
Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. (see link at the bottom for viewing times etc.).

Lot 9.
Sir William Orpen K.B.E., R.A., R.I., R.H.A. (1878-1931).

Letter on reverse.

Medium – ink
Signed on reverse; titled lower left.
Size: 9 by 5.50 inches (22.9 by 14cm).
Frame Size: 14.5 by 12 inches (36.8 by 30.5cm).
€1,500-€2,000 (£1,280-£1,710 approx.).


UPDATE: Sold €2,500.

Lot 10.
Sir William Orpen K.B.E., R.A., R.I., R.H.A. (1878-1931).

“My Dear Everett”

Signed centre right.
7 by 4.50 inches (17.8 by 11.4 cm).
Frame Size: 14.5 by 12.5 inches (36.8 by 31.8 cm).
Estimate: €1,000-€1,500 (£850-£1,280 approx.).

UPDATE: Sold €1,050.


Lot 11.

Lord George Hell by Sir William Orpen K.B.E., R.A., R.I., R.H.A. (1878-1931).

Signed lower left.

Size: 30 inches by 26 inches.

Medium: oil on canvas (1901).

Estimate: €10,000-€15,000 (£8,550-£12,820 approx.).


Exhibited: ‘The Art of a Nation: Three Centuries of Irish Painting’, Pyms Gallery London, June 2002, catalogue number 30.

Notes: Lord George Hell is the principal character in Max Beerbohm’s The Happy Hypocrite, who falls in love with the dancer, Jenny Mere, an ingénue in the seedy world of corrupt impresarios. A Regency reprobate, he sets about to woo her, but in order to do so, must wear a mask to cover a pock-marked face. When he succeeds in his task and the mask is removed, his face has miraculously healed and become ‘saintly’ – such is the power of love. The story was published in 1896 followed by a one-act dramatised version at the Royalty Theatre in 1900. Orpen’s first version of the subject is likely to have been inspired by seeing this production, rather than reading the book. This was shown at the New English Art Club in 1901. It is clear in the present oil version that Orpen wished to recreate the impression of a late eighteenth or early nineteenth-century print. The girls’ dress, bonnet, and black shoes recall the maidens of Gainsborough, Romney, and Hoppner, and the encounter mimics, to some extent, that of Gainsborough’s Haymaker and the Sleeping Girl. In the present version, Jenny is undoubtedly startled by Lord George and by the transforming effect of his love for her. The story of the miracle, revisited late in his career, clearly had a profound effect on Orpen since the original drawing was placed on his easel just before his death so that it could be transferred to oil.
William Rothenstein, who recounted his visit to the Oriel studio after the painter’s death, was struck by the fact that, in the present work, Orpen had returned to such a profoundly personal early theme. He told Beerbohm, the author also was moved when he heard of the painter’s life-long fascination with his play, and reflecting on their friendship, replied, ‘I am deeply touched about the Happy Hypocrite painting, and am glad that through my work I must have been in his thoughts.

Text from Whyte’s catalogue.

Link to Whyte’s catalogue with viewing times etc. –


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