Tag Archives: William Orpen

Ten Restful Ladies (1900-1904)

Ambrose McEvoy, 'The Letter', c.1904

Ambrose McEvoy, ‘The Letter’, c.1904

‘For the past few years the New English Art Club has been dominated by the personalities of a few members who have made the domestic picture the dominant note of the club’s exhibitions. I do not mean the millinery-baby domestic picture of the Royal Academy, rather the home picture of the Dutch School. The explanation is simple enough. Mr. Orpen, Mr. Rothenstein, Mr. Russell, Mr. Muirhead have chosen to paint the rooms in which they live, and the choice and simple possessions that an artist gathers about him. This example of dogged hard work has been infectious’ (C L H, The Academy and Literature, Nov 15th, 1902)

In light of this review, and this short article, here is a selection of ten early Edwardian representations of the domestic interior (or, as Max Beerbohm once put it, ‘restful ladies in dim or sunny rooms’). All artists featured were regular exhibitors at the New England Art Club at the turn of the century.

Please feel free to put forward your own suggestions/favourites in the comments!

1. William Rothenstein, The Browning Readers, 1900

2. William Orpen, The Mirror, 1900

3. Henry Tonks, Rosamund and the Purple Jar, 1900

4. Philip Wilson Steer, Hydrangeas, 1901

5. Mary MacEvoy, Interior: Girl Reading, 1902

6. Francis Dodd, Afternoon in the Parlour, 1902

7. Ambrose McEvoy, The Letter, 1904

8. David Muirhead, Night Shadows, c.1900

9. Walter Sickert, La Nera, 1903

10. Harold Gilman, Grace Canedy, c.1904


The Last Word in Impossibility


‘Nude Study’ by William Orpen, 1906

‘…when I am not at portraits I am painting nudes […] and my word – can a nude ever go well – it seems to me the last word in impossibility. I struggle and struggle and the things get worse and worse – I spent the afternoon in the Louvre looking at Nudes and there are none in the least like a woman – Rembrandt’s seated one is of course a marvel – but its not like a woman – Manet’s nude after all is a poor show – as a woman – and Courbet’s one in the Louvre is a shocker – though I remember seeing photographs of some nude woman of his a long time ago which looked wonderful – Forgive me writing all this stuff – I’ll have a drink and forget it’ (William Orpen, letter to William Rothenstein, 22nd November 1921)