‘Mother Feeding Her Child’ by William Orpen (1903). 

Grace Orpen (nee Knewstub) and Mary (Bunny).

Medium : Red and Black Chalk and Black Wash heightened with White on Paper : 12 x 9.5 inches (30.5 x 24.1 centimeters).

Signed : Lower Right  – William Orpen, ’03.

Current Location : Private Collection.

Provenance : with Fine Art Society, London (February 1980).

Private Collection USA.

London, Christie’s, Irish Sale, 14th May 2004, Lot 195, Estimate £5000-£7000, not sold.

Private Collection, USA.

Liss Llewellyn (by 2017).

Private Collection, UK (2017-).

Orpen’s eldest daughter Mary, known by the family as Bunny, was born in 1902. As a young father, the artist revelled in the beauty of the child bonding with her mother, Grace. William expressed his fascination in a series of drawings, mainly executed in chalks or pastels, dating from 1903 to 1904. There were three main themes to these works, bath time, the crib, and the Madonna and Child. This work is probably the most intimate of all the drawings. Orpen produced one oil version of his Mother and Daughter series “Bath Hour” (1904) (William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley, South Africa).


Post by Dominic Lee, Orpen Research Archives.