International Art Auction

December 13, 2011

LOT 109
Sir William Orpen (1878-1931)
  • Sir William Orpen (1878-1931)


Sir William Orpen (1878-1931), Irish


Pencil drawing and watercolour on paper; signed in pencil lower left, titled to gallery label verso
16.5" x 12" — 41.9 x 30.5 cm.

Estimate $2,000-$3,000

Realised: $5,520
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

About artist/note:

Major Gilbert Byng Alwyne Russell was born on June 1st 1875. He was the son of Lord Arthur John Edward Russell and Laura de Peyronnet. His military career encompassed the Egyptian Campaign in 1898, including Khartoum, the Boer War between 1899 and 1902, and in France with the Grenadier Guards from 1915, rising to the rank of Major. He married socialite and Art patron Maud Julia Augusta Nelke (1892-1982), daughter of Paul Nelke, the stockbroker and race horse owner, on 14 March 1917 in St. Andrew’s Church, Marylebone, London, and they had two sons. In 1934 he moved to Mottisfont Abbey, Hampshire, where he lived until his death. He died on May 28th 1942 at age 66.

Maud Nelke was painted by various artists including Sir William Nicholson in the Summer of 1914. It has also been suggested that Orpen painted her as well, but to date, this has not been verified. There is also no indication that Orpen ever painted a full oil portrait of the subject, and the pose here suggests that the subject work was always intended as an informal, although accomplished study rather than a preparatory study for a more formal portrait.

We are grateful to Christopher Pearson of The Orpen Research Project for assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.


Guy Morrison Art Dealer, London, inv. #MJS/31 giving details of the sitter, medium and size, circa 1987-1988; Private Collection, Canada

Additional Info:

Department: International Art
Medium: Works on Paper
Nationality: Irish