Lot 71
  • 71

SIR WILLIAM ORPEN, R.W.S., N.E.A.C., R.A., R.H.A. | Miss Annie Mary Geraldine 'Dolly' Harmsworth: Interior Portrait

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
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  • Sir William Orpen, R.A., R.H.A.
  • Miss Annie Mary Geraldine 'Dolly' Harmsworth: Interior Portrait
  • indistinctly dated and signed l.l.: 1907 W ORPEN
  • oil on canvas
  • 91.5 by 71cm., 36 by 28in.


Artist's Studio Book for Autumn 1907, 'Portrait of Miss Harmsworth £150' [including sketch of the picture with brief description underneath "36x28 White Dress, Pink Sash, Glass Ball"];
Sir Robert Leicester Harmsworth, Bt and thence by descent;
Christie's, London, 13 June 1980, lot 81;
Christie's, London, 3 March 1988, lot 87;
Cyril Leeper Collection, Canada, 30 March 1988 - 13 June 1989;
Phillips, London, 13 June 1989, lot 85;
Taylor Gallery, London, 1989;
Sotheby's, London, 16 May 1996, lot 463


London, Royal Academy, Winter Exhibition, 1933, no.30;
London, Taylor Gallery, Ireland and the Modern Movement, 1 June - 31 July 1990, no.30;
New Haven, Yale Center for British Art, America’s Eye: Irish Paintings from the Collection of Brian P. Burns, 25 September 1997 - 4 January 1998; 
Washington, John F. Kennedy Center, Irish Paintings from the Collection of Brian P. Burns, 13 - 28 May 2000, illustrated p.78


Artist’s Studio Book Reference: 13/07-1907 [Page/Line-Date];
Cara Copland Reference: H01:07 [Page:Line];
P. G. Konody and Sidney Dark, William Orpen, Artist and Man, London, 1932, pp.200, 267;
Bruce Arnold, Orpen, Mirror to an Age, London 1981, p.254


The following condition report has been prepared by Hamish Dewar Ltd, London UNCONDITIONAL AND WITHOUT PREJUDICE Structural Condition The canvas has been lined and this is ensuring an even and sound structural support and has successfully secured the overall pattern of fine lines of drying craquelure. Paint surface The paint surface has a reasonably even varnish layer which under ultraviolet light does appear rather opaque, making the accurate identification of retouchings difficult. The retouchings that fluoresce clearly include a crescent shaped area in the dark shadows of the pot in the lower left of the composition and a few very small spots and lines around the girl's shoes and other small scattered retouchings. There would also appear to be a thin horizontal line of inpainting, also in the dark shadows in the lower left, which is approximately 16 cm in length. This is just visible in strong natural light but does not fluoresce clearly under ultraviolet light and there may be further retouchings which are not easily identifiable. Summary The painting would therefore appear to be in good and stable condition and the opaque nature of the varnish layers should be noted. Held in a gilt plaster frame ready to hang.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

In 1907, Orpen was sharing his studio at 5 South Bolton Gardens, with friend and fellow artist Sir William Nicholson during which time they both embarked on a series of still-lifes based on objects in and around the studio. In addition, by 1907, his friend and distant cousin, Sir Hugh Lane, was also using Orpen’s studio to store artworks, (both pictures and objects), some of which were intended for Dublin’s Municipal Art Gallery, which Lane was still in the process of creating, and which finally opened in January 1908. In 1904, Orpen had accompanied Lane on a continental trip to Paris and Madrid, advising Lane on Modern French Art, resulting in the purchase by Lane of a number of such works, some of which could be found in Orpen’s studio. Orpen, taking advantage of this good fortune, used several of them as props, representing them in several of his paintings of that period. These include Edouard Manet’s Portrait of Eva Gonzalès (1870, National Gallery, London) which appears in Orpen’s Homage to Manet; Ignace-Henri-Théodore Fantin-Latour’s, Still Life with Glass Jug, Fruit and Flowers (1861, National Gallery, London), which appears in the background of Still Life: The Reflection (c.1907, Private Collection); Auguste Rodin’s bronze, Brother and Sister (1890, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin), in Still Life: Rodin Bronze, with a bowl of flowers, a blue bowl, a wooden globe, and an embroidered cloth, all on a table (c.1908, Mildura Arts Centre, Victoria, Australia); and Jacobus Hendricus Maris, A Girl Feeding a Bird in a Cage, (c.1867, National Gallery, London), part of which is visible in the upper right hand corner of the current work. Also visible but not attributable to Lane is a glass globe resting on a stemmed pedestal. This globe, which Orpen used to reflect his own image, also appears as one of the objects in Still Life: The Reflection (c.1907), as well as in The Glass Globe (1908, Mildura Arts Centre, Victoria, Australia). In the later part of the 19th and early in the 20th century, several British artists looked to the work of James Abbott McNeill Whistler for inspiration. In observing the current work, it is likely that he was referencing Whistler’s interior entitled, At the Piano (1858–59) (Taft Museum of Art, Ohio, USA), which Orpen would almost certainly have seen when it was exhibited in 1905 at the artist’s Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905 (no.75). This shows Whistler’s half-sister at the keyboard of a grand piano and niece leaning against the crook in the grand, watching her mother as she plays, placing Annie Haden in profile. Orpen chooses a similar pose, with Annie Harmsworth’s legs crossed, with just the toes of the bent leg’s foot making contact with the floor, whilst she leans against a sideboard, rather than a piano. As this is a commissioned portrait, Orpen does not have the luxury of using a second figure as a foil. Rather than ‘landscape’, he chooses the more usual ‘portrait’ orientation for the work, keeping the balance by replacing a second figure with various objects on the left of the composition. On the right-hand side, he introduces half of 'an old Dutch chair', (which is in The Mirror of 1900 and in several other later portraits), with a piece of clothing draped over the seat, trailing to the floor. He also subtly rearranges the pose, the legs cross higher up at the calves, the head is turned to directly face the viewer, the lean into the piece of furniture is just that much greater, and greater emphasis is placed on the hands. The effect is that it gives Annie a nonchalant attitude, presenting us with a softer and less formal portrait than that of Annie Lumb of the year before.

Given Orpen's great admiration for Velasquez, whose spell he fell under on a trip to Madrid in 1904 in the company of Lane, it has also been suggested that the present portrait shares an affinity with Velasquez's portraits of the Infanta Margaret at the ages of 3 and 8, seen in the pose of the girl, the vase of flowers, patterned carpet and bronze of a lion.

Known as 'Dolly', Annie Harmsworth was born on 4 May 1900, in Bushey, Hertfordshire, the eldest daughter of Sir Robert Leicester Harmsworth, Bt. Her father was Liberal M.P. for Caithness 1900-1918 and for Caithness and Sutherland 1918-1922. He was a brother of Alfred Charles William Harmsworth, (Viscount Northcliffe) (founder of the 'Daily Mail' and one-time owner of 'The Times') and of Harold Sidney Harmsworth (Viscount Rothermere), Cecil Bisshopp Harmsworth, (1st Baron Harmsworth of Egham), Sir Hildebrand Aubrey Harmsworth, Bt., and William Albert St. John Harmsworth.

Miss Harmsworth married Terry Colley Durham of Richmond, Appomatix, Virginia, U.S.A. on 1st March 1921. He was a Rhodes Scholar of Christ Church, Oxford, who died in 1949. They had four daughters. She died, aged ninety, on 24th June 1990, in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, England. Orpen also painted Annie’s sister, Violette Lilian Rosemary Harmsworth: In a Landscape (1910, formerly in the Brian P. Burns Collection), and much later, two of her uncles which are since untraced.