Adam's IMPORTANT IRISH ART 8th December 2021

52 34 WILLIAM ORPEN RA RHA (1878 - 1931) Anita Bartle, The Red Shawl Oil on canvas 94 x 72.5cm (37 x 28 ½”) Provenance: G.C. Beresford Collection; Private Collection Canada; Sale, Sotheby’s§ London: May 22, 2014, Lot 290; Private Collection, Ireland € 30,000 - 50,000 At the time of her marriage to the engineer and inventor, Aloysius Graham Brackenbury, in 1906, Anita Bar- tle received her portrait as a wedding gift from William Orpen. She had sat for the painter in the previous year for two portraits and the gift, now in the Tate Gallery, London, shows her looking to the left as though catching an off-stage fragment of conversation, her cheeks rouge, and lips reddened (fig 1). In the present more elaborate portrait, the sitter, having removed her coral beads, addresses us directly and an exchange is in progress. That neither picture is listed in the artist’s studio book, suggests that Miss Bartle was acting as a model, and that the two portraits were not commissioned, but the mere product of time spent visiting the Orpens. Bartle had known Orpen for at least three years, and probably since he had emerged as a star student from the Slade School of Fine Art. Recognizing his talent, she had been keen to purchase The Window Seat (Private Collection), shown at the winter exhibition of the New English Art Club in 1901. Subsequent correspondence between the two indicates that this early work costing £20, would be paid in 12 weekly instalments. The painter, recently married and keen to be independent, readily agreed. Two years older than Orpen, Anita Jane Craven Bartle (1876- 1962) was the daughter of George Henry Bartle and Rebecca Wood. Although born in England, at Brierley Hill near Stour- bridge in the West Midlands, her early years were spent in Valencia where she acquired both modern and old forms of Spanish. By 1894 she was back in England, completing her education at Clifton in Bristol. Well-read in English literary classics she started a newspaper column entitled ‘ This is my Birthday ’ in 1900, in the left-leaning Daily Chronicle - each day of the year containing a short anthology of quotations. The Chronicle is likely to have brought her into contact with the poet and essayist, Alice Meynell, one half of an influen- tial couple in the publishing world, whose son, Everard, was a Slade School friend of Orpen’s. She may well have joined Or- pen, and fellow students, Augustus John, Charles Stabb and Hubert Wellington at the lively ‘Sunday Suppers’ at the Mey- nells. (1) Such was the popularity of her daily anthologies that they were collected and published as a book in 1902, with an introduction by the popular Jewish novelist, Israel Zangwill and a dedication to the young Meynell. (2) The publisher’s in- novation was to insert a blank page at each date so that auto- graphs and other quotations could be added by purchasers of the book. The author’s own copy contains self-portraits by both Meynell and Orpen on the appropriate pages (fig 2). Fig 1 WilliamOrpen, Anita, 1905, 76 x 55.7cms, Tate