Group associated with the New English Art Club

1 portrait of Augustus John

Group associated with the New English Art Club, by Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen, circa 1904 - NPG 6345 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Group associated with the New English Art Club

by Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen
pencil, black chalk (or charcoal), pen, ink and watercolour, circa 1904
8 7/8 in. x 16 3/8 in. (225 mm x 415 mm) paper size
Purchased, 1995
Primary Collection
NPG 6345

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The New English Art Club was an exhibiting society founded in 1886 by a group of artists sympathetic to the French avant garde and as an alternative exhibition venue to the more conservative Royal Academy. Although its importance had diminished by the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, the NEAC played a crucial role in British art for over twenty years. Born in Ireland, Orpen came to London in 1897 to study at the Slade School of Fine Art whose staff dominated the NEAC.
He himself first exhibited at the NEAC in 1899 and in the following years became one of its most prominent members. Probably executed several decades later, Orpen's superb drawing is apparently a satire on the most influential artists, teachers and critics of his early years or, more generally, on the French influence on British art as taught at the Slade and exhibited at the NEAC. Alphonse Legros, Slade Professor of Fine Art from 1875 to 1892, is seen with the sculptor Rodin leading members of the English avant garde along a windy cliff top.

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