Two pieces of an Orpen love story

AN enduring love story that captivated Edwardian society is highlighted in a pair of portraits at Sotheby’s British and Irish art sale in London next Thursday (May 10).

Sir William Orpen’s portraits of Rose, Fourth Marchioness of Headfort (£300,000-500,000) and Geoffrey, Fourth Marquis of Headfort (£60,000-80,000) were first exhibited at London’s the Royal Academy in 1915.

He was one of the most eligible young men of the day from a leading protestant family in Ireland. She was a singer and actress, daughter of a comedian from Nottingham and a Catholic. After they married Rose left the theatre and lived at Headfort House in Ireland and in London. They had three children. He died in 1943, she lived until 1958.

The portraits created considerable interest when they were on view in Dublin and in Belfast last week, as did two works by the late Louis le Brocquy, Travelling People and Masked Head. The sale features two landscapes by James Arthur O’Connor A View of Fin Lough and Delphi Lodge (£30,000-50,000) and A Mountain Road in Mayo (£15,000-25,000).

A Connaught Fishing Village (£120,000-180,000) is the most expensively estimated of four works by Paul Henry. A portrait of WB Yeats by Augustus John (£30,000-50,000), May Day, a bean sculpture by F.E. McWilliam (£70,000-100,000), Summer by Daniel O’Neill (£60,000-80,000) and Manna by Colin Middleton (£30,000-50,000) are among the Irish artworks on offer.

Viewing begins tomorrow in London the sale is at 2pm, Thursday.

Sir William Orpen: Portrait of Rosie, Fourth Marchioness of Headfort at Sotheby’s in London next Thursday (May 10). (The earrings in this portrait made 42,500 Swiss francs at Sotheby’s in Geneva in 2011). The 4th Marquis of Headfort, Geoffrey Thomas Taylour created a scandal when he announced his intention to marry Rose Boote, an actress in 1900 and even the intervention of Edward VII failed to dissuade the Irish aristocrat. ‘Gaiety Girl’ Rosie Boote, the daughter of actors, was the product of a refined Catholic education through the Ursuline Sisters at Thurles, and although Gaiety Girls performed on the London stage, were considered polite and well-behaved. The marriage lasted the course.

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