Orpen painted his fiancée of the time, Emily Scobel - a model from the Slade School of Art - in front of a concave mirror. He is reflected in the mirror which is a device borrowed from Van Eyck’s painting Arnolfini’s Marriage
. This image is also clearly influenced by Whistler’s famous portrait of his mother with its shallow pictorial depth and how the objects are arranged in the room.
50.8 x 40.6 cm
Date of work
Oil paint on canvas 50.8 x 40.6 cm
Born in Ireland and later coming to London to study at the Slade, Orpen was a friend of painter Augustus John and a member of “The New English Arts Club”. Appointed official war artist in 1917 he donated 136 paintings to the government but struggled with the broader implications of war, and his health and social standing suffered. He later became very wealthy painting portraits of the rich and famous but his reputation was sullied until well after his death when he was eventually recognised as the finest portraitist of the 20th century.