DETAIL : John Singer SARGENT, The fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy 1907, The Art Institute of Chicago, American Art Collection DETAIL : John Singer SARGENT, Almina, daughter of Asher Wertheimer 1908, Tate, London, presented by the widow and family of Asher Wertheimer in accordance with his wishes in 1922
William ORPEN | Sowing new seed (for the Board of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland)

ORPEN, William
Ireland 1878 – 1931
England from 1897, with regular visits to Ireland and France
Sowing new seed (for the Board of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland) c.1913
oil on canvas
137.0 (h) x 137.0 (w) cm
signed 'ORPEN' lower right
Mildura Arts Centre, Senator R.D. Elliott Bequest, presented to the city of Mildura by Mrs Hilda Elliott in 1956

Sowing new seed was one of three large-scale allegorical works that Orpen painted between 1913 and 1916 which convey his attitudes to his Irish heritage. The scene is Dublin Bay, painted from Howth. The full-frontal female nude sprinkling seeds symbolises Orpen’s attempts to modernise Irish ideas about art. The two naked infants represent the receptive youth of Ireland, open to the new ideas.

Rose McPherson (Margaret Preston), acting as an overseas agent for the Art Gallery of South Australia, selected this work for purchase by the Gallery in 1914. However, conservative reaction to the nudity led the Gallery to exchange it with the artist for a portrait of Marshall Foch. In 1927, Orpen sold the painting to the Australian collector, RD Elliott, who eventually bequeathed it to Mildura.

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