‘Yours very sincerely, William Orpen’ – The Illustrated Letters & War Drawings.
21st May – 14th August 2005
This complementary display to the William Orpen retrospective in the Millennium Wing consisted of 90 items selected from the Gallery's collection of 366 sheets presented by Vivien Graves (daughter of Mrs St. George) in 1974. It comprised fragmentary illustrated letters and drawings which William Orpen sent his lover, Mrs Evelyn St. George, over a period of some fifteen years. The exhibition in the Print Gallery also included 13 of the artist's war drawings on loan from the Imperial War Museum.
Many of these letters, or more accurately, informal notes, were illustrated with quirky, humorous sketches. They gave a rounded picture of a complex and sensitive man, charming, warm and affectionate yet plagued by self-doubt, bouts of depression and ill-health. The illustrations focused on various aspects of Orpen's private and public life and included the following sections in the display: Orpen as Society Artist; Friends and Acquaintances; Self-Portraits; Mrs St. George; Orpen goes to War, and Humour in Hell.
‘Yours very sincerely, William Orpen’ –Illustrated Letters to Mrs St. George
© 2005 National Gallery of Ireland
Editor Anne Hodge with contributions by Donal Maguire