Dreweatts – Modern and Contemporary Art Auction. 25th Oct 2023.

Portrait of Ida Nettleship by Sir William Orpen (Irish 1878-1931).

Medium: Red chalk.
Signed and dated 1898 (lower left).
29 x 20.5 centemetres (11¼ x 8 inches).

J.L.W. Bird, London

London, J.L.W. Bird, Spring Exhibition, March-April 1981.

Estimate: £5,000 – £7,000 GBP.

UPDATE: Sold for £4,000 hammer price.

The present drawing was most likely executed in the studio at 76 Charlotte Street which Orpen shared with Augustus John and Ambrose McEvoy, whilst students at the Slade School of Art, London.

Ida Nettleship was born in Hampstead in 1877. Nettleship went on to study at the Slade under the tutelage of Henry Tonks and Philip Wilson Steer. Mixing within the artistic circles of north London, Nettleship became close friends with Gwen John and Edna Waugh. In 1901 Nettleship married Augustus John and they went on to have five sons together. Their relationship was complicated (due largely to a ménage à trois) and she sadly died shortly after the birth of her fifth son in 1907 which led to William Orpen falling out with Augustus John.


Play Scene from Hamlet by Sir William Orpen (not in auction).

In Orpen’s Play Scene from Hamlet, he depicts Augustus John kissing Ida Nettleship (bottom left). This painting went on to win Orpen the ‘Best Composition’ award at the Slade in 1899. (Sadler’s Wells Theatre).



Dreweatts, Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 2JE, United Kingdom.

Link to sale: – https://auctions.dreweatts.com/auctions/8701/drewea1-10406/lot-details/089ed536-129c-4db9-8a3b-b08401128e61

Post by Dominic Lee, Orpen Research Archives.