William Orpen: An Onlooker in France

ISBN: 9781903470671
Artist(s): William Orpen
Author(s): Commentary by Angela Weight and Robert Upstone
Format: hardback
Year published: 2009
Publisher: Paul Holberton Publishing
Publisher Location: London
Total Pages: 240
Illustrations: 100 illustrations

Author(s) Biographies:


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The best known of the Official War Artists sent to France, Orpen was the only one to publish an extensive memoir of his experiences and observations. He was a talented writer, and his accounts of the last two years of the Great War and the Peace Conference that followed it are vivid, lucid and shrewd. The book ends with a passionate indictment of politicians and their mismanagement of the War, and the rapidity with which the ordinary soldier was forgotten. This compelling book was first published in 1921.

This edition contains a critical essay by Robert Upstone which assesses Orpen’s career as a War Artist and the pivotal impact the war had upon him. It investigates the major controversies that marked this period of his life and is set against the wider ambiguity of Irish soldiers supporting the British war effort, while at home in 1916 the Irish Republican Brotherhood proclaimed an independent Ireland. Orpen’s portraits of generals, politicians, ordinary soldiers and airmen and evocative battlefield landscapes and bitter allegories on the waste of life and futility of war accompany the text. Also included is a catalogue of the Imperial War Museum’s definitive collection of Orpen’s war paintings and drawings.


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