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Sir William Orpen RA ARHA (1878-1931)

Major Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen, RA RWS RHA RI HROI RP PIS NEAC PNPS PS (1878-1931)

Precociously talented and greatly dedicated, the Irish artist, William Orpen, had the potential to succeed in almost any genre or medium of painting and drawing. By 1910, he had established a practice that would make him the most successful and honoured portraitist of his age. Less than a decade later, he was knighted for his significant work as an official war artist.

William Orpen was born at Oriel, Grove Avenue, Blackrock, County Dublin, Ireland, on 27 November 1878, into an Anglo-Irish family. He was the fifth and youngest child of the solicitor, Arthur Orpen, and his wife, Anne (née Caulfeild), daughter of the Rt Rev Charles Caulfeild, Bishop of Nassau. His eldest sibling, Richard Caulfeild Orpen, became an architect and watercolourist.

Orpen’s father intended that he should study law and enter the family legal firm, which had been founded by his paternal grandfather, Sir Richard Orpen.

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