Portrait by Sir William Orpen of  Mrs. Arthur Gibbs with a jade necklace included in this auction of Four Generations of the Palmer family collection at Bussock Wood, Berkshire by Dreweatts Auctioneers Donnington Priory, Newbury, UK. On 4th June 2024.

  For viewing dates, see auction link at the bottom.

 Portrait of Mrs. Arthur Gibbs with a jade necklace by Sir William Orpen (Irish 1878-1931).

Dreweatts Lot: 16. Estimate: £50,000 – £80,000 GBP.

Auction Result – Passed (failed to reach desired price).

26% (exc. Sales tax).

Medium: Oil on canvas.
Signed: upper left.
78 x 63cm (30½ x 24¾ inches.)

Orpen’s studio book lists the painted as sold in 1922 for £1000. He also noted that he was ill at the time.

The sitter, thence by descent to the present owners. 

London, Royal Academy, 1922, number 34.

P. G. Konody & S. Dark, Sir William Orpen, Artist and Man, London, 1932, page 272.

Following her engagement to Arthur Gibbs in November of 1920, Barbara Trevor Williams received a very special wedding gift from her father’s business partner and family friend, Eldridge R. Johnson. He wanted to commission a portrait of her by any artist of her choice. There was much debate over which artist she should sit for, but her father’s previous experience sitting for Sir William Orpen, coupled with Barbara’s own preference for his works, ultimately settled the matter.

After her wedding, Barbara sat for Orpen on five or six occasions, building a relationship with the artist, and developing a level of trust. It was during these sessions that she confessed her pregnancy. Orpen took good care of the young lady, ensuring her comfort throughout, even taking her home in a taxi after a particularly long sitting.

Upon completion, the portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy in the Spring of 1922, alongside works by George Clausen and notably John Singer Sargent’s Countess of Rocksavage. Despite being well received at the Academy, Orpen wasn’t entirely satisfied with the final result. In 1926, Orpen wrote to Barbara, expressing his desire to correct the colour values, which he deemed to be incorrect due to his own illness at the time of painting. Barbara obliged, taking the painting to his studio for adjustments. There, she sat for him twice more as he meticulously corrected the tones of her skin, resulting in the portrait we see today.

 Mrs. Arthur Gibbs painting on display at Bussock Wood.