Drogheda Municipal Art Collection

Figure Study

William Orpen

b. 1878 - d. 1931
Pencil on paper

Major Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen, KBE, RA, RHA (27 November 1878 – 29 September 1931) was an Irish artist who worked mainly in London. William Orpen was a fine draughtsman and a popular, commercially successful, painter of portraits for the well-to-do in Edwardian society. During World War I, he was the most prolific of the official artists sent by Britain to the Western Front. There he produced drawings and paintings of privates, dead soldiers and German prisoners of war along with portraits of generals and politicians. Most of these works, 138 in all, he donated to the British government and they are now in the collection of the Imperial War Museum. His connections to the senior ranks of the British Army allowed him to stay in France longer than any of the other official artists and although he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, KBE, in the 1918 King's birthday honours list and elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, his determination to serve as a war artist cost him both his health and social standing.

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