See previous blog post on the Sir Michael Smurfit Art sale by Sotheby’s London 9th Sept. 2020 which includes one of the paintings below – ‘Solitude // Night’ : –

 The Window / Night Series is a series of works, from about 1902 to about 1908, all featuring the same window in Orpen’s Chelsea home, 13 Royal Hospital Road, at night, and in the main are characterised by the deep cobalt blue of the night sky. All but one are oils (the other being a watercolour), and all but what is believed to be the first (which contains no figure), contains the figure of the Artist’s wife, Grace.

References to the works are often confusing, because not only was the subject matter similar, but also the titles. It therefore cannot be said with certainty exactly how many there were in the series. Five have been positively identified however, along with two sketch studies. Certainly some, if not all, of the other references could well refer to one or other of those already identified.



Chelsea Window, A // Night (Small) (1902).

Oil on Canvas : 24 x 20 inches.

Current Location : Private Collection.

The Window of No.13 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea. There are no human figures in this work. (circa 1902).

Provenance : Always in the Artist’s Family.

Exhibited : R.A., Winter 1933, No.136.

Birmingham Art Gallery, 1933, No.3 (Dimensions given as 25 x 20 inches).

NGI, Centenary, 1978, No.24.

Literature : K&D page 267 as ‘Night (Small), but mis-dated 1907.

NGI, Centenary Catalogue, 1978, No.24, page 27.

Cara Copland lists the work ‘Night (Small)’ as belonging to Lady Orpen. As this was the only ‘Night’ picture she owned, Konody and Dark, in using Cara Copland as their source, mis-dated the work. Cara Copland, herself does not date it.


The Window (Night) (1906).

Watercolour : 17.25 x 13.125 inches (44 x 33cms).

Signed : Bottom Left ‘William Orpen, 1906’.

Current Location : Bradford Art Gallery (107-26).

Woman seated, looking through netted window at night. She is holding the net in her right hand.

Provenance : Studio Book “Drawing of Window (Night) Marchant & Co £12, 1906, page 11, illustrated page 10 “Drawing The Window about 14 x 10 reproduced”.

Given by Asa Lingard to Bradford Art Gallery in 1926.

Exhibited : Goupil Gallery Salon, (Fourth Gallery), Winter 1906, No.10, as “The Window”

Price tag £21.

British Council Fine Arts – Algiers and Cairo.

Stoke City Art Gallery, Edwardian Art, 1987, No.73.

Literature : Art Journal 1907, London Exhibitions, pages 43-4  (Illustration).

“A nervous study of a figure at a window by Mr Orpen.”

Stoke City Art Gallery, Edwardian Art Catalogue, 1987, No.73 (B&W Illustration); Arnold page 214 (footnote).

Label on back of Frame from William Marchant & Co London.

Studio Book Reference : 11/04-1906.

Photographic Negative Reference : L47/1/A(31-32).


Solitude // Night // Window, Night, The // The Window Light, (Possibly in error) (circa 1907).

Night by Sir William Orpen (circa 1907).

Also known as Solitude // The Window.

Signed lower right: ORPEN – Oil on canvas – 107 x 79cm., 42.5 x 31.25 inches.

Current Location : Private Collection.

Woman lying back in chair, eyes closed, hands clasped to head. She is in front of a window partly covered by net curtain, at night.

Provenance : Studio Book page 13 Autumn 1907 “”Night” Ex Goupil”, sold with another work – total £300″. Illustrated page 12, captioned – “Night about 40 x 30 inches.”

SOLD at Sotheby’s London 2020 for £110,000 Hammer Price. Total £137,500.

Sold to Edmund Davies from Goupil, November 1907.

Possibly : Barbizon House (David Croal Thompson).

Possibly : W.B. Simpson, 84 Vincent St. Glasgow.

Mr J. Howden Hume (by Dec. 1919) (Possibly purchased for £650).

Sold Phillip’s 7/6/94, Lot 68, as ‘The Window, Night’ for £7,2000.

Exhibited : Goupil Gallery Salon, Winter 1907, No.91 as ‘Night’.

Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, 58th Exhibition, Oct – Dec 1919, Lot 263 as ‘Solitude’ (Illus. in Catalogue, Plate 5).

Literature : Unpublished letter to Hugh Lane (Hugh Lane Papers, Dublin), 16 November 190[7] “I have just heard that Edmund Davis bought my Night Picture from Goupil.”

Art Journal, 1908, page 30, illustrated page 31, as ‘Night’;

The Studio, May 1915, Volume 64 #266, The Edmund Davis Collection II, page 241, as ‘Solitude (Illus. page 230).

Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, 58th Exhibition Catalogue, 1919, Lot 263 as ‘Solitude’ (Illus. Plate 5).

The Studio, Dec 1919, Vol.78, Lot 321, Glasgow Exhibition Review, as ‘Solitude’, page 118 (Illus. page 114).

Arnold page 214 (footnote).

Phillip’s, London, Sale Catalogue 7 June 1994, Lot 68, page 60, as ‘The Window, Night’, (Illus. in colour).

Proud, Hayden (Editor), The Sir Edmund and Lady Davis Presentation: A Gift of British Art to South Africa, South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa, 1999, page 115, (Illus. Fig. 21.2).

At first sight, the provenance as outlined by Phillip’s for their 1994 Sale catalogue does not appear to be consistent, with that traced through illustrations in contemporary journals. However they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The Phillip’s provenance is as follows: –

Probably with the Goupil Gallery, 1912.

David Croal Thompson.

W.B. Simpson Esq, London.

Purchased by the present owner’s family in 1919 for £650.

Cara Copland, in her listing, lends support to the Phillip’s provenance. “‘Night’ or ‘The Window Light’ (42  x31) Painted at 13 Royal Hospital Road, 1907 – sold to William Marchant – lately sent by Barbizon House to W.B. Simpson, 84 Vincent St. Glasgow – by order of Mr Howden Hume.” Barbizon House was a Gallery run by David Croal Thompson, but the 1912 reference may be for another picture in the series, as there was an entry in the Studio Book for that date.

Studio Book Reference : 13/11-1907.


Window Picture : The Night, // At the Window.

Oil on Canvas : 35.5 x 27.5 inches (91 x 70cms).

Signed: Lower Left ‘ORPEN’.

Current Location : Private Collection.

Woman seated in chair gazing out of the window at night. Her hands are resting on her lap.

Provenance: Possibly: Sold at the Goupil Gallery in 1907.

John James Cowans.

Sold by J.J. Cowans, Christie’s, London 2/7/1926, No.135, for £110 & 5 shillings, to Sampson, (William W. Sampson, of the British Galleries, Art Dealer), as ‘At the Window’.

Sold Christie’s, Rome 25/5/72 No.347 for 750,000l (£500), as ‘At the Window’.

Birley, Mark (by 1978).

Thence Annabel’s Night Club;

Sold Christie’s, London 20/11/2018, Annabel’s Sale, No.34 for £95,000, as ‘Night’.

Exhibited : NGI, Centenary, 1978, No.50.

Literature : K&D page 146.

Unpublished letter from Bruce Arnold, dated 23 August 1977, to A. Dixon, of National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, in which he mentions a version hanging in Annabel’s Nightclub in Berkeley Square.

NGI, Centenary Exhibition Catalogue, 1978, No.50, page 36.

Dimensions given in NGI, 1978, Catalogue 33 x 24 inches.

Christie’s London, Tuesday, 20 November 2018 Lot: 00034, Annabel’s.

Estimate £50,000 – £80,000, Sold for £118.750 Premium.

The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, in the notes to their picture ‘Night (No.2)’, footnote 5, suggest that this work was sold at Chenil Gallery in 1907, as per the NGI Centenary catalogue entry.


Night // Night No.2.

Depicting William Orpen kissing his wife Grace.

Oil on Canvas : 30.125 x 25.25 inches (76.5 x 64cms).

Signed : Lower Right ‘Orpen’.

Current Location : National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (4237-3).

Man leaning over from back, kissing woman stretched back in chair, in front of window, at night.

Provenance : Studio Book page 47, 1930 – “Night” (Melbourne) £340.

Felton Bequest, 1929, recommended by L.B. Hall from the Exhibition Contemporary British Art, Melbourne, 1929, to the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

Exhibited : Royal Institute of Oil Painters, London, 42nd Exhibition, 1925, Lot 365, Asking Price £400.

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool 54th Autumn Exhibition, 1926, Lot 142, Asking Price £500.

Possibly : Imperial Gallery (Institute), London, 12 April – 30 June 1927, Artists Resident in Great Britain and the Dominions, Lot 150, Asking Price £300.

Possibly : Southport, Atkinson Art Gallery, 17 May – 13 July 1929, 44th Spring Exhibition of Modern Art, Lot 476, Asking Price £525.

Melbourne, Victorian Artists’ Society Galleries, 12 November – 30 November 1929, Contemporary British Art (E. Murray Fuller), #17, Asking Price 600 Guineas (Actually sold at Exhibition for £340).

Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, 19 June – 16 August 1936, Orpen Memorial Exhibition, Lot 16.

Literature : The ‘Studio’, November 1926, page 360, (Illustrated).

Konody & Dark, William Orpen : Artist and Man, London, 1932, page 267 and 283, as ‘Night No.2’.

National Gallery of Victoria, Armstrong and Boys, 1932, page 83.

Arnold pages 214-15 (Illustrated page 215 left) (footnote page 214).

According to a Reuter’s report, reproduced in a British Daily, ‘Night’ went down in the steamer ‘Manuka’, when it was ship-wrecked, 16 December 1929, off the coast of New Zealand, whilst on its way to Dunedin. However these reports of its demise were premature, for although it was originally part of the E. Murray Fuller Exhibition in New Zealand, it had been shown first in Melbourne, and sold there. Consequently it may not have been on board, although another Orpen Picture ‘Resting on the Somme, 1918’ was lost.  However one key feature differs this work from others in the series, and that is the lack of the strong blue of the night sky. This work has an overall greyness. Could it be possible then, that although the work was sold in Melbourne, it continued on tour, was involved in the ship-wreck, was subsequently recovered, but was damaged by the salt water, and returned to Melbourne, rather than being sent on the replacement exhibition?

Studio Book Reference : 47/20-1930.



The Window.

Oil (?)

Title Not Matched to Known Work Exhibited : Goupil Gallery, Summer 1909, Paintings of the Barbizon, Modern Dutch and English Schools”, No.34, as “The Window”.

There is no split between oils and drawings in the catalogue but assumed oil as two of the works marked pastel.

Window Night, The (circa 1908).

Title Not Matched to Known Work.

Provenance : Studio Book “”The Window Night” (Painted at No.13 about 1908) £150″, page 23 for 1912.

Literature : K&D page 267.

Bruce Arnold page 214 (footnote).

Studio Book Reference : 23/21-1912


Solitude [2]

Oil on Canvas : 40 x 30 inches.

Current Location : Not Known.

Provenance : Sold Christie’s 1/12/25 as ‘Solitude’, Lot No.97, for £168 to Ashworth.

Literature : Art Prices Current, 1925-1926, Lot 903.

It is not certain if this picture belongs to ‘The Window’ series. Certainly the window picture known as ‘Solitude’ was known by that title by the time of the 1925 sale, but the Provenance given to it for the Phillip’s sale 7 June 1994, Lot 68, suggest that this work is different.

Also sold at 1/12/1925 Sale, ‘On the Edge of the Cliff, Wales’.


The Window

Oil on Canvas : 25 x 20 inches.

Current Location : Not Known.

Woman seated, looking through netted window at night. She is holding the net in her right hand.

Literature : Bruce Arnold page 215, illustrated (right).

This is the same version as the Bradford Watercolour (0007), and maybe same work but incorrect caption detail.



Night – Study for Series.

Brown and Blue Wash : 8 x 8 inches (20 x 20cms).

Current Location : Private Collection.

Drawing of a woman lying on a couch in front of a window, with a man leaning over her near her head,

Provenance : The Artist’s Family.

Literature : McConkey ‘Irish Art’, 1990, page 128, Fig.27A.

Pyms ‘Irish Revival’, 1982, No.37.

Sleep (1907).

Pencil and Brown Ink on Paper : 7.75 x 8.25 inches (19.7 x 21cms).

Signed : Bottom Left ‘William Orpen, ’07’.

Current Location : Private Collection.

Drawing of a woman lying on a couch in front of a window, with a man leaning over her near her feet.

Literature : McConkey ‘Irish Art’, 1990, page 128, Fig.27.




Drawing : 6 x 4.5 inches.

Current Location : Not Known.

Provenance : Sir George Brooke.

Sold Christie’s, London, 9 July 1928, purchased by Carroll for £6=16s=6d.

Literature : Art Prices Current, 1927-28, Lot 10651.


These two illustrated letters, the illustrations of which relate to the Window-Night series, and most specifically to Night No.2 (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia)  were sent to Grace, the artist’s wife, in 1906, when Orpen was up in Huddersfield painting the portrait of Miss Annie Isobel ‘Lillo’ Lumb (1899-1974) (1906).

“When the Living Sleep and The Dead Awake. etc. etc. Huddersfield.”

“My dearest wife – thank you for your letter received this morning – I am sorry I missed the post yesterday – up in this part (I am staying at Holmleigh) one must post before 8.30 if it is to get to London the same night – forgive me doing nearly the same drawing – my mind is running on this picture – I am sorry you thought my last man was a woman – this one is also supposed to be a man!”
Illustrated Letter. Private Collection.


Post by Dominic Lee, Orpen Research Archives.