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in these paintings. The Mirror (Fig. 7.10) is one of these genre pieces.


Orpen taught part time at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin from 1902 to 1914, where he was highly influential on a generation of students. He spent his summers at Howth, where he painted scenes of the gravelly beach and the cliffs.


During the First World War he was an official war artist and was troubled for the rest of his life by the things he saw. Many of his paintings show no man’s land under winter snow or blooming with spring flowers, but he did paint the wounded and dying and the terrible conditions they were in. There is a large collection of his war paintings at the Imperial War Museum in London.


Orpen made a very good living as a society portrait painter in London right to the end of his life.


Midday on the Beach Subject


A mother and child lie on a rug in the shade of an umbrella (Fig. 7.11). The light and colour create an impression of heat.


Composition


The figures are placed in the bottom left corner of the format. A diagonal drawn from the top left corner to the bottom right would enclose them. This is balanced by the clothes and picnic hamper in the top right. The diagonal from bottom left to top right catches the mother’s hand and legs and the child’s face. This is quite a modern arrangement – it is a little unbalanced to create a more dramatic effect.


Style


This painting is Impressionistic both in composition and colour. Outlines are reduced and the effects of light are closely observed.


Colour


Orpen uses mainly spectrum colours in the Impressionist way in the shadow areas as well as in the brighter areas in this painting. His normal palette of colours was more traditional, using ochres, earth colours and black as well as spectrum colours.


Fig. 7.11


Midday on the Beach, 1910, by William Orpen, oil on canvas, 88.9mm x 116.8mm, private collection


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APPRECIATING ART: SECTION 1


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