About this artwork

'A Bloomsbury Family' depicts the artist William Nicholson and his family. Nicholson's wife, the painter Mabel Pryde, is standing by the door. Sitting at the table from left to right are the Nicholson children: Nancy, who married the writer Robert Graves; Tony, who died during the war in 1918; and Ben, who would become Britain's foremost abstract artist. Standing in the foreground is Christopher or 'Kit', wearing a type of frock often worn by young boys at this date. He became an architect. Orpen himself is reflected in the convex mirror.

Sir William Orpen

Sir William Orpen

Orpen was born in Blackrock, near Dublin. He studied at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin from his early teens before moving to London in 1897. Orpen subsequently studied at the Slade School of Fine Art for two years, where he became friends with the artist Augustus John. He later went on to become one of the most successful society portraitists of his day, commanding huge sums of money for his work. In 1917 Orpen worked as an Official War Artist in France.