SIR WILLIAM ORPEN R.A., R.H.A.
THE THREE BLIND MEN WATCHED BY THE THIEF (ARABIAN NIGHTS)
signed and dated Orpen 1901 (lower left) and titled THE THREE BLIND MEN WATCHED BY THE THIEF (lower right)
pencil, coloured chalks and wash on paper
unframed: 34 by 49cm., 13½ by 19¼in.
framed: 56 by 69cm., 22 by 27in.
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Unexamined out of frame. The sheet does not appear to be laid down and undulates slightly. The work appears in very good overall condition.
The work is held in a gilt wood frame with a cream mount under glass.
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The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
Robert Dunthorne & Son, London
Private Collection since 1971
Sotheby's, London, 22 May 2014, lot 285
The present drawing dates to a series of early works Orpen made as a recent graduate from the Slade School of Art, London in 1899. At this time, Orpen turned extensively to literature as a source for ideas, such as Heinrich Heine's Florentine Nights, Max Beerbohm's The Happy Hypocrite, Arthur Conan Doyle's The Refugees and Oscar Wilde's The Fisherman and His Soul. For the current work, Orpen has taken the story of 'The Three Blind Men', deceived by a wicked thief, from Arabian Nights, which provided Orpen with many subjects between 1899 and 1904. It is probable he has portrayed himself as the thief, a practice found in his early works when after leaving the Slade access to models and financial freedom was limited. Here, Orpen has created a work charged with drama, achieved through his use of chiaroscuro, bold composition and brilliant drawing technique.