William Orpen: Politics, Sex & Death

ISBN: 9781904897217
Artist(s): William Orpen
Author(s): Robert Upstone
Format: paperback
Edition: First
Year published: 2005
Publisher: Philip Wilson Publishers/ Imperial War Museum
Publisher Location: London
Total Pages: 160
Illustrations: Colour images throughout with some black & white photographs

Artist(s) Biographies:


1 available

The book reveals the full variety of Orpen’s work, from his revitalization of the nude and his conversation pieces to his extraordinary allegories and war paintings, and analyses the series of self-portraits that are a particular feature of his oeuvre.

A Protestant born near Dublin, when Ireland was part of Britain, Orpen went to art school there before going on to the Slade in London, where he was one of the stars of its great period. Through his prestigious portrait commissions, membership of the Royal Academy and his knighthood, he became part of the British establishment, but always asserted his sense of Irish identity. His experiences as an official war artist haunted him and made him cynical of politicians. Although he painted brilliant portraits of these very men, and of generals and war heroes, he also produced some bitter allegories of the lives of soldiers that still appear disturbing and surreal.

This major re-assessment of the artist accompanies a retrospective exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, London (27 January – 2 May 2005), and at the National Gallery of Art, Dublin (dates TBC).

Essays by Robert Upstone, Curator of the exhibition, Professor Roy Foster, University of Oxford, and David Fraser Jenkins, Senior Curator at the Tate Gallery, London.


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