© The Artist's Estate
Bea Orpen, Irish, 1913-1980
Title: Study of a Seated Woman with Hand on Knee
Medium: Graphite on paper
Sheet: 27.5 x 21.3 cm
Credit Line: Presented, the Family of the Artist, 2019
Object Number: NGI.2019.75
DescriptionBea Orpen trained at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art and at the RHA Schools (1932-1935), where she won prizes for drawing and painting from life. She also attended the Slade School of Art in London (1935-1939), where she was awarded a diploma in design. While in London she also studied textile and commercial design in the London County Council Central School of Arts and Crafts. Back in Ireland, she taught art at several schools in Drogheda. The niece of the architect and painter Richard Caulfield Orpen and the painter Sir William Orpen, she played a fundamental role in establishing Drogheda Municipal Gallery of Art. She was a member of several important committees including the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin (1975-1978), the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (1974-1976), and the Director of the Arts Council courses for National Teachers, An Griánan (1959-1978). She exhibited every year at the RHA between 1934 and 1980, contributing over 100 pictures. She was elected an honorary member of the RHA in 1980.

This representative collection of study material forms part of the Prints and Drawings collection. The group of works (ngi.2019.68-88) comprise figure drawings, produced during the artist’s time as a student of the Metropolitan School of Art, with many inscribed 1933, 1934 and 1937, along with a gouache of Ventry Bay, dated 1939, together with two later sketchbooks, dated 1969 and 1973. These enhance the collection of four sketchbooks by the artist, dated c.1931-34, acquired by the National Gallery of Ireland in 2018. This selection of works on paper forms part of a larger body of work, including figure drawings, poster and textile designs, gifted by the artist’s family to the NGI Library and Archive collections. This generous gift gives researchers a greater insight into the artist’s student work, along with the various strands of her output. The acquisition also enhances the work of Irish women artists within the collection.

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