Sir William Orpen, R.W.S., N.E.A.C., R.A., R.H.A.
- Sir William Orpen, R.W.S., N.E.A.C., R.A., R.H.A.
- Mr and Mrs Jack Courtauld and their Daughter Jeanne on a Settee
- pencil and watercolour
- 53 by 67cm., 21 by 26½in.
Acquired by the family of the sitters and thence by descent
'We have at our galleries here all the paintings and drawings which were in Sir William’s studio at the time of his death.
Many or these are for sale, including a drawing in pencil and colour of yourself and Mrs. Courtauld, on a settee, with your small child, and we thought perhaps you might be interested to see, and possibly acquire, this picture. If you care to look at it we shall be pleased to show it to you any time, together with the other Orpen pictures we have here.'
Although there is no record of the sale taking place, it did indeed end up in the family where it has since remained. Major John (Jack) Sewell Courtauld (1880-1942) was the son of Sydney Courtauld (1840-1899) and brother of Samuel Courtauld, founder of the Courtauld Institute of Art, and Stephen Courtauld, who lived and commissioned the striking modernist interiors of Eltham Palace. Jack married Henrietta Barbara Holland in 1906. They are depicted here with their daughter Jeanne, who was born in 1909 and therefore dates the present work to circa 1913-14, just prior to the First World War. Jack saw active service and was awarded the Military Cross (as was his brother Stephen). He owned a company of architects, but at the 1924 general election he was elected as Member of Parliament for the constituency of Chichester, where he served as MP until his death in 1942, aged 62.
It is likely that the current work, with its tell-tale furniture and fittings, was executed at Oriel, Orpen’s studio in South Bolton Gardens. Of specific note is the round convex mirror, a characteristic of so many of his interiors, along with the settee and zebra-striped cushions, which sometimes can also be seen in works of the period from about 1910 to about 1914, such as Alfred Rich and Model (Tate Gallery) and The Poet (private collection). What is more, Orpen, who indulged in many famous self-portraits, gives us a tantalizing glimpse of himself as his easel, reflected in the mirror.