William Orpen, Irish, 1878-1931
Title: Portrait of Augusta Gregory (1852-1932), Dramatist and Folklorist
Date: c.1904
Medium: Oil on canvas
61 x 46 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 1953
Object Number: NGI.1274
DescriptionAugusta, Lady Gregory did not write professionally until she was almost fifty years of age. A chance meeting with W.B. Yeats (1865-1939) turned her attention to local folklore, and she and Yeats began to collect it together around Kiltartan, Co. Galway. With Yeats , Edward Martyn (1859-1923) and Douglas Hyde (1860-1945), Lady Gregory founded the Irish Literary Theatre in 1899 and she was an active Director of the Abbey for many years. Between 1901 and 1929, she wrote more than forty plays, most of which were produced in the Abbey. Many of the major figures of the Irish literary revival visited her at her home at Coole Park. She was a keen nationalist, learned Irish, and even invented her own dramatic dialogue, which she called 'Kilternan'. In this striking head and shoulders portrait Orpen captures not only a convincing likeness but a sense of the intelligence and strength of character of his sitter. Orpen is renowned as one of Ireland's most important artists of the 20th century. His life classes at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art were hugely influential on a subsequent generation of students.
ProvenancePossibly belonged to James Sleator; sold, Norths, 27 April 1950; purchased, Private Collection, 1953
Exhibition HistoryAspects of Irish Art, a Loan Exhibition; Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Columbus, Ohio, 27 January - 3 March 1974; Toledo Museum of Arts, Toledo, Ohio, 17 March - 14 April 1974; St Louis Art Museum, St Louis, Missouri, 3 May - 9 June 1974

William Orpen 1878-1931, A Centenary Exhibition, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 1 November -15 December 1978
Label TextAugusta, Lady Gregory did not publish until she was almost fifty years of age, but between 1901 and 1929 wrote more than forty plays. Most of these were produced at the Abbey Theatre, of which she was a director. With W.B. Yeats, Edward Martyn and Douglas Hyde, she founded the Irish Literary Theatre, and was a vigorous collector of folklore. She welcomed many of the leading figures of the Irish Literary Revival to her home at Coole Park. A fervent nationalist, she learned Irish and even invented her own dramatic dialogue, which she called ‘Kiltartan’.

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